“I have finally got a life” - new community mental health service to roll out following successful pilot | Press Releases

“I have finally got a life” - new community mental health service to roll out following successful pilot

86% of people said their quality of life has improved.

Wigan Borough Living Well, a new community mental health service which sees Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) join forces with Wigan Primary Care, Wigan and Leigh Community Charity, and Wigan Council, is set to roll out across the Wigan Borough following a successful pilot in Hindley.

The service - part of the national Living Well programme - is funded by Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership and supported by the Innovation Unit.

It will support people across the Wigan Borough who are experiencing mental health problems, by understanding their goals and working with them to achieve them in a holistic way.

Alongside dedicated mental health support and treatment from NHS clinicians, the service will also connect people with their local community, and help them in other areas of their lives which they may need support with - and which might also be having an impact on their mental health - including housing, employment, loneliness, debt, or substance misuse.

The service will take a ‘trauma-informed’ approach to care, meaning that it will seek to understand past traumatic events people may have experienced how this may have had a lasting impact on their wellbeing, and what they may need to help them move forward.

Peer Mentors and Peer Support Workers will act as experts by experience, able to connect with people from a place of understanding as they know what it is like to walk in their shoes.

Wigan Borough Living Well was co-designed and co-produced by the Wigan Collaborative - a multi-sector partnership of people who are passionate about working together to change and improve the mental health system. It includes representatives from GMMH, Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations, Wigan Council, and most importantly people with lived experience of using community mental health services.

Together, the Collaborative collected stories and listened to people’s experiences, to shape Wigan Borough Living Well into something that is fit for purpose, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of Wigan and Leigh’s communities.

An initial ‘prototyping’ pilot ran in Hindley from May to November 2023. During this time, a small group of people were supported through the service, and improvements were made along the way, based on regular feedback from the people using the service and the staff delivering it.

At the end of the pilot, an evaluation of 7 people supported found that 87% felt their quality of life had improved; and that 71% had experienced a meaningful improvement in their recovery.

One person who was supported through the service said:

“The team has helped me so much, the best mental health team I have been involved with. I don’t feel alone, they have come and helped me sort my life out. I have finally got a life.”

Another person who was supported through the service said:

“All staff members I have met have been very supportive and friendly. Every issue I have had they have supported me, and helped with strategies on how to deal with whatever is an issue.

“Staff are very much like a family, and I have been made to feel very relaxed meaning I have been able to discuss everything I needed to. I will continue to use all the resources given to help me move forward”.

Kieran Jones, Peer Mentor Coordinator at Wigan Borough Living Well, GMMH said:

“From personal experience, I know how hard it can be to reach out for support. If I had had a Peer Mentor all those years ago when I was struggling – someone who had been in my position, someone who I could trust - this would have had a huge impact.

“Our Peer Mentors will be providing person-centred support – it’s not just about mental health, it’s about helping people to be part of a community.”

Nicola Quinn, Clinical Lead at Wigan Borough Living Well, GMMH said:

“People who are struggling with their mental health may often be experiencing other issues in their lives which can act as a barrier to their mental health recovery and overall quality of life. This could include problems with housing, finances, loneliness & isolation, or physical health. That’s why it’s so important to listen to an individual, understand their barriers and goals, and treat them as a whole.

"Our community and social care partners have so much to offer, and by joining forces we are making sure people don’t slip through the gaps and that they get the right support at the right time.

“We are delighted that this model is showing initial signs of success. As we take the next step to roll out the service across the Wigan Borough, we will continue to evaluate, learn and grow.”

David Baxter, CEO of Wigan and Leigh Community Charity said:

"As a place-based organisation that champions partnership working between social enterprises and anchor organisations, we see the Living Well partnership as a new way forward to developing services of need in the community, all in a peer-led strategy.

“It has been an honour working with GMMH and learning about ways of working such as trauma-informed approaches, and it’s been great to share our beliefs in co-design and collaboration.

“Living Well provides a 'one stop shop hub' to help people both reduce their barriers but also build their skills and confidence. Our role has been based around accommodation, and the impact this partnership has had on our social enterprise tenants has been enormous. It’s exciting to know that our members attending Living Well can then be supported afterwards via other community partners, be it support with food, skills development, craft making or more.”

The roll out of Wigan Borough Living Well follows the roll out of Living Well Salford, one of only four original pilot sites in the UK, in 2022. An evaluation report undertaken by the Innovation Unit, found that 83% of people supported had reached one or more of their goals; and over half experienced a meaningful Improvement in their recovery. It was shortlisted for the ‘Innovation of the Year’ Award at the prestigious national HSJ Awards 2022.

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