Support for Survivors, Alpha Mare Support Group, Mothers for Mothers Gardening Group
WINNER: Support for Survivors
Support for Survivors aims to actively reduce the distress of male and female victims and survivors aged 16 plus who were sexually, physically or emotionally abused, neglected or experienced abuse from a family member. They engage, enhance, support and focus on positive mental health and wellbeing attitudes for empowerment of the self and others, to prevent members turning to drugs, alcohol and other addictions to help them through their recovery from trauma. The group has built a safe and non-judgemental environment where people can share experiences, building trust and respectful relationships between members. They use self-help and peer-led principles to create a positive and dynamic therapeutic environment, generating empowerment and combatting isolation and alienation. Over 250 victims and survivors, along with their families and carers, are involved in the group. The group reaches out to the marginalised and socially excluded in communities and works on an individual basis with members, recognising that each person is at a different stage of their recovery.
RUNNER-UP: Alpha Mare Support Group
The Alpha Mare Project is an innovative peer support group for women with mental health issues, using the idea that women, like the lead mare in the horse herd, are nurturers and often take care of others while disregarding the need to look after themselves. The Alpha Mare Course enables women experiencing mental health issues to set boundaries, make healthy choices, build self-esteem and cope with change. As women join together to take part in a meaningful activity and bond over a shared interest, they gain the confidence and communication skills to talk about their mental health. The group works on a drop-in basis and members will spend part of their time helping to train and care for rescued horses while having discussions around various themes such as self-care, relaxation and problem-solving. The group is open to women for as long as they need the support and they are encouraged to be involved in the group as leaders once they feel ready.
RUNNER-UP: Mothers for Mothers Gardening Group
Mothers for Mothers peer support workers and volunteers have set up a gardening group, attended by mothers and their children who have been affected by perinatal mental illness or an ongoing mental health issue while caring for small children. The group is run on a drop-in basis, and women are able to attend from pregnancy until their youngest child starts school. The group provides peer support alongside outdoor activity in an inner-city area where there is a lack of access to safe outdoor spaces. They grow quick growing and easily harvested food whilst encouraging the women to have discussions about their mental health and wellbeing and enabling young children to experience eating food that they have grown themselves. The peer support staff and volunteers who run the group have all experience perinatal mental illness and the members are encouraged to decide what they grow. Learning a new skill has helped the women to bond, which has in turn encouraged more open discussions around mental health.