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Service users pick projects in Dragons’ Den set up

15 March 2017

Exciting ideas and fast pitches are often put forward by nervous people on Dragons’ Den. But the spirit of the TV show isn’t something usually associated with local authorities.

That’s set to change in Sheffield as the City Council is trying a new approach to funding mental health projects to help with conditions such as anxiety and depression.

For the first time ever, people who use mental health services will themselves choose which projects the council will fund, in a Dragons’ Den-style set up on Friday, 17 March.

People will see five voluntary and community groups pitching for a share of a £40,000 pot. Officers from Sheffield City Council have already vetted those bidding to make sure all projects are deliverable and will have a positive impact on people’s mental health.

Councillor Cate McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “We’ve never involved a group of service users so closely in the design of services. For the first time ever, they’ve been right at the heart of specifying what they want and now selecting which projects we will fund. This is really exciting and absolutely the way we want to go as we commission new services.

“We’ll be funding local projects that support people who are isolated and connect them with positive activities in their area. Similar groups already run in Sheffield and can really help make things better for people, boosting their mental health. I’d urge anyone interested to go along and give them a go. I’m very pleased we’re enabling more neighbourhood projects to set up in Sheffield.”

Jules Jones, Chair of the Mental Health Service Improvement Forum, said: “It’s a new way of involving people who use services, and the people who care for them, in shaping council services. Keeping people right in the middle of what’s going on.

“I hope the new projects will instil a sense of belonging and involvement into people’s local communities as people with mental health problems can often feel very isolated and alone. I also hope they’ll kick-start something that can be self-sustainable in the future.”

Each project will be able to receive between £5,000 and £10,000 and all must show how they will meet goals such as raising awareness of mental health support, tackling stigma around mental health and supporting people with mental health problems to improve their physical health and access to work and training.

Projects bidding for a share of the funding include:

  • A swim bus for older people in South Sheffield with mental health problems
  • Support groups for people in North East Sheffield with mental health problems
  • Community champions in Arbourthorne and Manor to help local people with mental health problems access local support
  • A men’s support group in Netherthorpe and Upperthorpe

Visit the Sheffield Mental Health Guide (www.sheffieldmentalhealth.org.uk/) to find out more about services for support people’s mental well-being in Sheffield.

Find out more about Sheffield City Council’s service improvement forums: www.sheffield.gov.uk/caresupport/involvement-engagement/service-improvement-forum.html