This week I went to St Neots to visit those that work hard to support people with mental health issues. It was my pleasure to speak with a mix of service users, volunteers and staff.
Something I am learning more and more in my time as Leader is just how much of an impact mental health has. So many of the support services we provide as a council come across mental health as a common factor. That is why I’m really keen to learn more and explore what we can do better.
It seems that we have a real success story to celebrate actually. Not only did I hear about the great offer of support that Hunts Mind provide to communities with the council’s backing at the moment, but I heard about our efforts to transform these services to make them even better.
What we have got right in this case – so I was told – was really involving those that use these services in our redesign and retendering process. We are changing our approach to be more about employment and re-engagement, and it seems that the service users themselves have been at the heart of this.
From April this year our new arrangements will go live – with a countywide service provided by the Richmond Fellowship in Partnership with the newly titled Cambridge Mind.
Of course there are always learning points – and something I have committed to looking into further is the relationship between the council, the voluntary and community sector, and the mental health trust.