Social care project working to break mental health and poverty cycle

The Wales Co-operative Centre is currently running its fourth annual Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign.

The campaign is demonstrating a number of ways in which the Centre is helping to reduce poverty through the projects it runs, the businesses and organisations it supports and the people who are the end beneficiaries of that support.

Today we look at one example of the work that has been supported by our Care to Co-operate project, funded by Welsh Government.

Poverty costs people’s health and well-being and their potential to be active citizens with a sense of purpose. Research shows that mental ill-health and poverty interact in a negative cycle. Care to Co-operate is working with communities that are addressing people’s well-being and specifically their mental well-being.

To break this cycle of mental ill-health and poverty, interventions are needed that address the social causes of illness. This is where Care to Co-operate is working, supporting interventions driven by the people who have experienced mental health first-hand. We are doing this with citizens in their community and with the support of the community around them. A current Care to Co-operate client provides a good example.

We are working with a group of volunteers to incorporate a new co-operative – let’s call it the Arts and Craft Co-operative. The group contacted Care to Co-operate as the demand for its services is outstripping its current capacity. Fundamentally the co-operative is tackling the isolation experienced by people with mental health issues through weekly arts and crafts workshops. The workshops are led by creative professionals who develop the skills of local women to produce stylised handmade arts and crafts, to sell to the public.

Co-operatives are types of organisations and businesses that embody the citizen’s voice and control in the support and care services they offer. Citizens are the heart and the pulse of co-operatives and it’s their knowledge and experience that can deliver real solutions to break the cycle of mental ill-health and poverty.

Can the solution to the social causes of mental health be as straightforward as weekly workshops that are inclusive, offer participation in meaningful activities along with social interaction and a sense of purpose? We think it is straightforward, as the people who know best are telling us so.

Care to Co-operate exists to deliver the vision of the Social Services and Well-being Act by working with local authorities, health boards and communities to implement their new duty, known as Section 16. The duty calls for the promotion (investment) of user-led organisations, social co-operatives and social enterprises to deliver care and support services.

For more information on Care to Co-operate, please visit the Wales Co-operative Centre website or call 0300 111 5050.

Follow the Tackling Poverty Fortnight conversation on Twitter #PovertyInWales.

This blog post is also available in Welsh.

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