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£3,400 – MICRO FUND – FEB 2017

The mental health problem in RCT is significant – the prescribing rate of anti- depressants in the area is the largest in Wales by some margin – approaching one in six of the population. Valleys Steps was founded after an extensive and independent feasibility study by the Welsh Institute of Health and Social Care (WIHSC) – alongside CWM Taf Health Board wanting to take real action to reduce their unsustainable expenditure on antidepressants.

The organisation was kick-started by a Wales Wellbeing Bond, providing a means of transforming public services and improving wellbeing through reducing demand and creating savings which can be repaid and reinvested. A range of interventions have been developed that are locally accessible, non-stigmatising, well promoted to the general population, and offering viable alternatives to anti-depressant prescriptions.

The grant we gave was to help Valleys Steps to build on learning from the first year and implement measures to promote greater participation.

The primary goal of the service is to improve the mental well-being and emotional resilience of the population. Utilising the funding from Pen y Cymoedd we successfully delivered Community Engagement sessions. We recognise that signing up for 6-week course is a commitment, particularly at a time in our lives we may be feeling stress, therefore the information and engagement sessions have provided a platform to raise awareness of our courses.

These sessions contributed to a 46% increase in last quarter of 2017 of people joining our 6-week community courses as they allowed us to raise awareness and remove barriers. After attending 6-week courses: 57% of people report improved relationships / 59% of people are better able to manage workplace stress because of skills they learn over 6-week course and 38% of people notice a significant improvement in physical health over the 6 weeks.

As part of these information sessions, we have worked with partner organisations including Actif Woods, Men’s Sheds and the WI and we found that sessions held at partner events reached a much wider audience than stand alone events. We have built up excellent relationships with community groups and agencies which has proved invaluable in terms of increased referrals to our courses. In total we delivered 26 sessions reaching around 170 people face to face and reached over 20,000 on social media. Having the grant to spend gave us the confidence to try out new ways of advertising which we want to continue due to its success. Many Thanks!” Quote from Felicity Crump – Valleys Steps

We were thrilled to hear that the information sessions funded by a relatively small grant from Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund, had such reach and impact. The marketing they carried out with the grant allowed them to raise their profile significantly online and with partner agencies and community organisations and this is now being rewarded with a big increase in numbers of people engaging with their 6 week courses. People were able to experience Mindfulness and Stress Control taster activities which is often the start of emotional well-being enhancement and they have also actively encouraged course participants to consider volunteering roles. Their relationship with GPs and healthcare professionals has improved greatly and Valleys Steps has become a first port of call for referral.

We wish Valleys Steps good luck as they take their next steps.

Quotes from partcipants:

“fab courses” / “the mindfulness one was ace” / “enjoyed my first volunteer session with @ValleysSteps yesterday and I’m looking forward to working more with this fantastic wellbeing charity” / “after finishing the mindfulness course I found that I had a completely different outlook on life in general and a number of tools to deal with anxiety and depression, I cant recommend this course enough.”