Friday, 18 June 2021
NHS mental health Trusts and councils promised action to limit the pandemic’s long-term impact on the wellbeing of south Londoners at a virtual community summit this week.
Around 500 community leaders and members of the public joined the virtual event on Wednesday evening to hear public sector leaders make a series of specific pledges at the climax of South London Listens, a listening campaign that started last year. More than 5,700 people told community leaders about the pandemic-related pressures on them and those they care about in 1-1 and group meetings.
The initiative involved Citizens UK and other community groups working with the three NHS mental health trusts and 12 boroughs to help prevent a mental health crisis and ensure local people and communities recover from the pandemic together. A survey commissioned for South London Listens revealed that 78% of people have been feeling isolated since the start of the pandemic and 76% have experienced loneliness. Some 81% of people have felt powerless.
As well as loneliness and isolation, other key themes which emerged included:
Commenting on the summit, Vanessa Ford, Chief Executive, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust said: “It was inspiring to see hundreds of people across South London coming together to call for meaningful action on mental health in response to the impacts of Covid-19. We know the effects of the pandemic will be felt for some time to come and that more needs to be done to tackle the inequalities that it has highlighted.
It has been heartening to see people coming together through the South London Listens campaign to discuss these issues. And we are proud to be taking forward the full set of pledges and working with partners across the regions to develop the programme’s action plan.”
The commitments that the mental health trusts signed up to last night include:
Ann Beasley, Chair, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust said: “Through South London Listens, 6,000 people have helped us to chart a course to develop mentally healthier communities in South West London. This exercise has given us insights into the impacts the pandemic has had on our communities’ mental health and wellbeing and has given leaders tangible actions to take forward to address the challenges we face. We now look forward to playing our part in the programme’s next phase, and delivering on the pledges we have made.”
Millie Banerjee, Chair, South West London Health and Care Partnership said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, collaboration is more important than ever. South London Listens has been a fantastic campaign, bringing people together and helping leaders to better understand the mental health challenges that matter.”
Our community has spoken and we have listened. From tackling inequalities to delivering for our children and young people, the work now begins to deliver meaningful action to prevent mental ill-health and promote wellbeing in communities across south London.”