Winner Best Charity or Social Enterprise 2015 – Richmond Borough Mind, Val Farmer, Chief Executive

Richmond Borough Mind (RBMind) is thrilled to have been awarded Best Charity award by Richmond CVS and we are hugely grateful to both RCVS for sponsoring this award and for the Chamber for the work it does to recognise the importance of the local voluntary sector.

The award will help us demonstrate the quality and impact of our services to the local public and businesses, and give our ‘Charity of the Year’ sponsors: Sainsbury’s Manor Circus and Gap, a fantastic pat on the back for helping us to provide those services. It should also help us attract new trustees who will want to come and be part of such a worthwhile organisation, knowing that they will be contributing to an organisation that makes a difference to over 3000 people every year, either impacted themselves by mental health problems or their family and friends.

While we have provided services such as counselling, support for carers, and activities for adults with mental health problems for over 50 years, our new Mindkit project, for which we have won this award, is our first project focussing on young people. Most mental health problems will be established before the age of 24, and so in providing awareness and wellbeing sessions for young people aged 14-25 this project is helping young people to get help earlier. We also recruit young people with lived experience to deliver the sessions which really helps their personal and professional development and reduces the stigma. The volunteers are delighted to have their work recognised in this way.

We know 1 in 10 children will have a diagnosable mental health problem. 1 in 4 people will have mental health problems as adults, and 1 in 100 will have severe and enduring problems such as psychosis or severe depression. Suicide is the highest killer men under the age of 50. The earlier a problem is supported the less severe the impact may be on the young person, their family and friends in later life.

The initial wellbeing sessions have been offered into schools and have been very well received. Some of our volunteers met with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently who were impressed by the scope and impact this project has on young people. Over the coming months the team are developing more specialised workshops to deal with self harm, eating disorders and exam stress.

Like all charities, RBMind is finds it increasingly difficult to attract sufficient funding for all of our activities. We would very much like to work more closely with local businesses which could offer us specialist volunteer support in HR or IT or project management, or the myriad activities it takes to run our organisation. We would also love to hear from local businesses who may consider having us as their charity of the year. We have lots of fun ideas on how they can raise funds and team build at the same time. In return we can offer training in mental health awareness, or stress reduction through relaxation. As we build our training offer this could also help earn us money to help us to maintain our services. I hope this award will make us more visible to local business and we would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in how we may be able to work with them.

We are delighted that the award gives us the chance to widen awareness in the borough of the work we do. Applying for the award, and winning, has really helped boost confidence in our ability to show what we can do. We will be back to demonstrate more at the 2016 awards!