Oakleaf reaches out for mental health with wellbeing in the community
Oakleaf Enterprise is the only mental health charity in Surrey working as a social enterprise offering support to people who suffer from severe and enduring mental health issues in regaining the skills and confidence required to get back into work and be active members of society.
This is done by providing a mix of vocational training in IT, upholstery and horticulture and a range of social activities. The activities range from focused confidence courses and mindfulness sessions through to fitness and yoga classes, guitar lessons, art-related sessions and photography classes. Each of the vocational training clients (service-users) receives a personalised action plan that is reviewed every four months to help ensure the best support is provided based on the client’s needs.
From the success of the range of activities run at Oakleaf in Guildford, they have also recently been awarded a grant from the Big Lottery Fund for the development of their ‘Reach Out for Wellbeing’ project – set up to deliver a structured programme of wellbeing and engagement activities for local, vulnerable adults suffering mental ill-health and will work closely with local partners to offer activities. These not only welcome existing clients, but also engage new ones, particularly hardest-to-reach adults at greatest risk of isolation and disadvantage.
The project has already been seen to be vital in helping to make a huge difference to people living in places where transport links and the costs involved do not permit easy and regular travel to the centre in Guildford. Oakleaf are continuously building the calendar of activities available to those in Waverley. Currently, the majority of these take place in Godalming and Farnham as central points for people to access support. In addition, they have and will continue building links in the community, using feedback to ensure the activities and support people really need and want are provided.
Activities run Monday to Friday and are organised by Paul Osbiston, the Outreach Engagement Coordinator at Oakleaf. Paul also meets with each individual looking to start an activity to help agree on the best plan moving forward for the individual’s needs. Using close links to similar organisations, Oakeaf regularly signposts clients to those that can help them most, ensuring people get well rounded support.
Outreach work is made easier by the generosity of people in the community; public donations have helped to maintain the Yoga and Pilates groups, and instrument donations have helped to start a new music group. It is also with the support of local businesses, such as Café Mila in Godalming, that Oakleaf are able to provide a safe and peaceful environment for clients to take part in activities.