During the first wave of Covid, the VCSE Mental Health Leadership group (a direct offshoot of the GM VCSE Leadership Group) became a crucial tool in keeping the commissioners and decision makers within the mental health system aware of the issues that were emerging on the ground and within communities. During weekly Zoom calls it became obvious that the emerging pandemic was hitting hardest the mental health of the diverse marginalised ethnic communities that make up Greater Manchester.

Action was immediately taken and a number of community led organisations including CAHN, Way-Yin, Yaran North West and Jewish Action on Mental Health received direct investment to provide much needed therapeutic services to those who were finding their wellbeing particularly impacted by the situation.

What was discovered is that there were many communities and individuals who resisted using mainstream services. Their perception and lived experience was that it did not provide them a culturally appropriate service. Work began behind the scenes to look at how community led VCSE organisations from and operating within marginalised ethnic communities could be supported to link with mainstream providers and ensure there was a transfer of knowledge and ideas.

As a direct result of that work, which has been overseen by the Mental Health Leadership Group, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has announced the creation of a unique and innovative fund to tackle health inequalities that marginalised ethnic communities face when trying to get help from mental health services. The fund marks a key recognition of the crucial role that community-led providers play in removing the barriers to access and the disparate experience and outcomes that some communities face.

About the Fund

The fund will support organisations that are operated by and within marginalised ethnic communities.

Funding is available for projects that provide early interventions for severe mental illness to stop or slow its development. Also for innovative activity that supports people with severe mental illness to enable them to live with their conditions and to move from secondary care (Mental Health Trusts) to primary care (GP’s). Key is showing that work reduces inequality of access, experience, or outcome.

Applications are welcome from user-led community organisations from Greater Manchester who experience race inequalities. Applying organisations need to be non-profit bodies with a formal constitution but do not need to be a registered charity.

In all £750,000 is available in 2022/23 and will be distributed as one-off innovation grants of up to £10,000 and substantial core investments of up to £200,000 to support large scale projects and partnerships. To ensure that we can engage with as many diverse groups as possible we are initially asking for short expressions of interest. Whilst this is initially a one-year fund, it is hoped that by showing its effectiveness we can continue the investment into consecutive years.

The specification and the expression of interest form can be downloaded via the link below.

If you have any questions about this fund, or the work of the Mental Health Leadership Group, please contact Stewart Lucas at stewart.lucas@nhs.net