CareTech Foundation Impact Report 2020/2021 >> Physical and learning disabilities and mental health
The CareTech Foundation supports people with disabilities and long-term health conditions through five partnerships. In a year during which the pandemic has taken a devastating toll not only on the physical health of millions of people but on their mental health too, the support of these projects is both timely and essential. The Foundation has provided funding of £210,094 in this priority area.
In the UK, 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children experience mental illness. Furthermore, depression rates have doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Existing inequalities have worsened with mental health issues disproportionately affecting certain groups, including people with disabilities, those living in social housing and those with certain mental health disorders.
The Foundation has provided mental health support to 1,071,994 people this year, in partnership with the British Asian Trust, working in Pakistan; Depaul working with young homeless people in Northeast England, and OnSide’s “Bridging the Gap” programme.
In Pakistan, the three-year project with British Asian Trust has now been completed, reaching 16.8 million in a successful pandemic response with its multi-channel campaign to raise awareness of mental health and signpost those in need to services available. This year, 1.1 million people directly benefitted by attending mental health awareness raising sessions, accessing support through helplines and engagement with community-focussed OutReach campaign.
Cumulatively this OutReach programme has now supported 1.5 million individuals.
This year, the programme has improved the access of 28,315 individuals to mental health support services made available at clinical and non-clinical levels. These have included support groups and forums; 1-2-1 support from professionals and remote support for children and adolescents.
In total 95,941 have benefitted from this increased access, over three years.
As well as directly supporting people, British Asian Trust and its partners have trained 997 practitioners this year, to identify, refer, and support people on mental health. Overall, 1,988 have received training through the programme.
In the final months of the project, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the programme was a priority. BAT worked with IRD and Sehat Kahani to ensure that the newly integrated mental health services are fully embedded within their existing service offering. As a result, mental health services will continue to be available through Sehat Kahani’s 32 clinics across the country, and through five healthcare facilities which partnered with IRD. The project leaves a lasting legacy, influencing the wider mental health eco-system in Pakistan, with improvements in availability, accessibility and quality of services, and greater investment in mental health nationally.
43-year-old Zeba lives with her husband and four children in Pakistan. Her husband is a daily wage worker earning approximately 68p a day and their eldest son is a rickshaw driver. The family’s struggle of day-to-day survival was interrupted when Zeba was diagnosed with cancer. With little access to any helpful information, and no finances for costly cancer treatment Zeba thought that she had been handed a death sentence and slipped into depression and anxiety. Her poor mental health was exacerbated by her COVID-19 diagnosis and lack of documentation for applying to a free of cost cancer treatment programme.
Zeba called the British Asian Trust’s partner IRD’s mental health support helpline and was referred to a counsellor. Having established a trusting relationship with the counsellor, Zeba was first educated about her illness, given an opportunity to talk about her illness and feelings with ease and taught some coping mechanisms. One-on-one sessions gave both mental support and practical help, and Zeba has now started treatment at a non-profit hospital.
“Counselling has helped me reconnect with my family during this time. I understand the importance of open communication. I realise that I shouldn’t give up and am hopeful that I will get well.”Zeba
The funding of Depaul supports the delivery of Mental Health/Wellbeing workshops to young homeless people in Depaul UK’s accommodation projects in the North East of England. 130 young people have been supported directly through the workshops, activities, and one-to-one support this year.
In addition, 120 young people living in its accommodation received mental health and wellbeing activities, resources, and tools as part of the overall support provided. Funds have also contributed to mental health training for 67 staff members and volunteers. While COVID-19 continues to present some challenges to delivery, more face-to-face sessions have been possible. Two face-to-face gender peer support groups have been well attended by young people with feedback demonstrating the positive impact the groups have on mental health and in general the preference for in-person support.
“From speaking with our staff and young people, we know that the pandemic continues to put unprecedented pressures on their mental health and wellbeing, with many concerned about the future. Having the Wellbeing Programme in place has been crucial in enabling young people to talk about their mental health, learn wellbeing techniques, and get specialist crisis support when they need it.”Beth Lowe – DePaul UK
In April 2021, the Foundation began a three-year partnership with Onside Youth Zones to identify and address early signs of mental illness in young people. The programme, called ‘Bridging the Gap’, is also supported by the Rayne Foundation and is part of Onside’s ‘Culture of Health’ initiative established in partnership with the Oglesby Charitable Trust. ‘Bridging the Gap’ is focused on upskilling staff at OnSide’s Youth Zones and providing access to stigma-free, multidisciplinary mental health care to young people who are experiencing, or are at risk of developing mental health issues. Young people also have the opportunity to access six-week issues-based workshops, one-to-one tailored support from Youth Zone staff, or work with a Health and Wellbeing Manager to secure specialist support from external agencies as appropriate.
“OnSide Youth Zones is committed to excellence in Youth services. This project and the support from the CareTech Foundation has contributed towards achieving this excellence in the field of mental health and wellbeing. The project’s training of staff and support for young people devasted by the pandemic could not be more important.”Simon Marsh – Head of Grant Partnerships, OnSide Youth Zones
So far, the Foundation’s funding has supported 874 young people who will have knowledge and opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle. More specifically, the Foundation’s support has enabled:
- 102 young people to access signposting support from Mental Health First Aiders
- 57 young people reporting an increase on three or more health indicators
- 69 staff trained
- 665 young people to engage in workshops and initiatives
- 2 new Mental Health First Aiders trained and deployed
- 1 health worker recruited
In addition, 3,450 indirect beneficiaries are active members of the Youth Zones where young people aged between eight and 19, or up to 25 with a disability, have affordable access to high-quality sports, arts, and leisure facilities and activities, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Within these indirect beneficiaries, 681 young people benefitted from more nutritious hot meals.
“I found lockdown really difficult. The Youth Zone’s welfare calls and activities kept me focused. I had told them that I previously had one evening of self-harming and suicidal thoughts. They implemented a full action plan for me. I am now getting professional counselling which is helping me to adapt to a new way of living and a dedicated youth worker is supporting me through doorstep visits, mentoring and welfare calls.”Andrew – OnSide Youth Zone member
“The COVID-19 crisis has meant that, more than ever, our youth workers have been supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people across the country. We are thrilled to have CareTech Foundation’s support which will help us reach even more young people with this programme.”Kathryn Morley – Chief Executive, OnSide Youth Zones
The CareTech Foundation also recognises that academic research is crucial in understanding disabilities and therefore in supporting those with disabilities and long-term health conditions. Both the Birkbeck, University of London and Autistica research projects have made progress in their early stages, with the ToddlerLab launched and starting to collect data at the end of the reporting period and Autistica approving three projects for developmental funding. These projects represent step changes in how Autism and neurodevelopment are understood and supported.
At Birkbeck’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, the CareTech Foundation is supporting the building of the new ToddlerLab, allowing researchers to study toddlers while they engage in games and other everyday behaviours in their natural environment, transforming understanding of neurodevelopmental conditions. Despite all the COVID-19-related challenges in building the new facility, the building is almost fully operational and data is currently being collected in the ToddlerLab with parents and children on site.
“There is no cure for neurodevelopmental conditions like autism but with the right interventions, children with these conditions can learn to cope with them and live happier lives. By furthering our understanding of these conditions, the Wohl Wolfson ToddlerLab will help children around the world to do just that.”Anneka Hendrick – Head of Corporate Partnerships, Birkbeck
The CareTech Foundation’s partnership with leading UK autism research charity Autistica, for the newly-launched Social Care Action Fund will fund new research focused on revolutionising the provision of social care for autistic adults in the UK. The project, launched in March 2021, will, over the next three years, develop and fund five practical, high-quality social care research studies focussing on the health, wellbeing and quality of life of autistic people with a learning disability.
In its first year, the call for proposals for the Social Care Action Fund received 10 applications highlighting strong collaborations across universities, social care providers, third sector organisations and local authorities. In June, Autistica hosted a Scientific Review Panel with external reviewers which approved three of the projects for development funding:
- Autism and Addiction
Dr Sally Adams, University of Bath. Identifying improvements to drug and alcohol services to improve the lives of autistic adults, carers, and the quality of support provided. Alcohol Change UK agreed to match-fund the project.
- Autism and Social Prescribing
Dr Kerryn Husk, University of Plymouth. Exploring the potential for social prescribing for autistic adults in social care.
- Autism and Ageing
Dr Mary Stewart, Heriot-Watt University Exploring gaps in social care support for older autistic people – exploring how the needs of autistic adults change in late adulthood and what adaptations can be made to existing services (and the need for autism-tailored services).
“Our partnership with the CareTech Foundation represents a fantastic and very novel way that Autistica envisages working with funders. It has provided us with invaluable insight and a bolstered institutional learning into how we can develop multi-faceted relationships with funders that are strategic and far-reaching. The possibility of involving CareTech employees in the development and execution of funded projects within the Social Care Action Fund is incredibly promising. It is an excellent wrap-around to the vital financial support.”Richard Scott – Trusts and Foundations Manager, Autistica
Most recently in September 2021, the Foundation has partnered with RNIB to work together to ensure that no one with complex needs in a care setting is missing out on basic eye care due to their additional needs and conditions. The project will review the existing Vision Friends project and work with CareTech plc staff to review and roll out the project in the care sector.