Ben, Rob and Wendy from Support in Mind's Solas Project talk about their experiences of having funding from the Self Management IMPACT Fund.
Support in Mind Scotland seek to support and empower all those affected by mental illness including family members, carers and supporters.
The Solas project encourages and supports individuals in the community who are currently subject to a Compulsory Treatment Order or are being treated through the Mental Health Act 2013 to manage their illness and take control of their lives.
Support in Mind Scotland worked with their members and supporters to design and create the Solas project. Solas provided an approach which gave individuals living in a disparate rural area consistency. The project aimed to be something that was more aspirational than focussing solely on public safety and compliance measures.
“Being able to sit down and ask people ‘what do you want’ and be able to actually help them with that, made such a difference” Ben – Outreach Worker
Initially, Solas outreach workers found that the people they were working with already had support workers in other services. People they were working with often told them things that they wanted to hear, rather than the goals they really wanted to work on. Solas found that working towards goals others often thought were ‘unrealistic’ actually helped people to begin their self management journey and move in the right direction for their recovery.
The Solas team found that getting the word out about the project and encouraging appropriate referrals was more difficult than they had originally anticipated. This was partly due to the individuals they were working with often being seen as ‘challenging’. However Solas staff persevered, meeting regularly with clinical staff and telling the positive stories of those who have benefitted from the service.
“The flexibility that the IMPACT Fund allowed us to be able to widen our criteria to include people with Compulsory Measures as well as CTO’s made a huge difference to the development of Solas” Wendy – Project Manager
Working in a flexible and open way with The ALLIANCE to develop Solas has been key to the success of the project. This has allowed the team to demonstrate the impact and develop trusting partnerships with clinicians in the Highlands, therefore increasing the number of referrals to the project.
“My CPN saw the difference in me after I’d been involved with Solas. They now get it and have begun to refer others.” Rob – Peer Support Worker
Despite some challenges along the way, the work of Solas, particularly the peer support aspect has now been recognised for its value by clinical workers such as Community Psychiatric Nurses who now have a understand how Solas can complement and strengthen their work, rather than competing with it. Solas found that they could spend a few hourse with people, while CPNs traditionally had shorter appointments available. People using solas appreciated the time and space to discuss things with the team, and with each other. However there is still more to be done.
“Without funding from the IMPACT Fund we wouldn’t have been able to demonstrate that this works and wouldn’t have been able to secure funding from elsewhere.”
With the outcomes demonstrated through the IMPACT Fund, Support in Mind Scotland have been able to secure funding from The Big Lottery to continue to deliver Solas to individuals in the Highlands, strengthen their links with local healthcare providers and continue to build on the peer support aspect of the work.
www.supportinmindscotland.org.uk (This link will take you away from our website).