Churches in Cambridgeshire will receive support via the government’s Faith New Deal Pilot Fund to address mental health and loneliness and enhance wellbeing in their communities.
Cinnamon Network, is one of 16 organisations to have received a share of government funds to support work with vulnerable individuals.
Over the coming months, Cinnamon will be working with mental health and wellbeing specialists, Linking Lives, Embracing Age, and Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries to provide FREE training and one-to-one consultancy to equip churches to respond.
Growing mental health crisis
Mental health was at near epidemic levels in the UK even before COVID-19. The stress of the pandemic caused a surge in demand for support and the recent cost of living crisis is pushing people to new levels of stress and anxiety.
In an open letter to the prime minister, executives from the nation’s leading mental health charities cited concerning figures about the link between the current crisis and our mental health.
In July alone, the Samaritans received 12,000 interactions from people mentioning finance or unemployment as a major concern. Meanwhile, the charity Mind, have seen a 30% rise in calls to their Infoline related to finances in comparison to last year.
Churches are a key community resource
Churches are no replacement for professional mental health support. However, they have a vital role to play in supporting people on their journey to better wellbeing and ensuring those most at risk get professional support.
As a natural place for community, churches can also help to address issues such as loneliness, which is associated with an increased risk of some mental health problems.
Through the training, churches will receive support to better understand their role and how they can connect with the professional bodies, the NHS, and social services who are currently overstretched.
Until January 2023, Cinnamon Network is coordinating training events for churches across the Cambridgeshire region. Churches that want to find out more about the initiatives and get involved should visit www.cinnamonconnect.co.uk/cambridgeshire/.
Gareth Brown, Co-Head of Church Engagement at Cinnamon Network said: “There are so many churches in Cambridge who are already doing so much to support their communities. Through this new initiative, we want to help enhance their great work and equip them to support those experiencing poor mental health and combat isolation and loneliness with professionalism and compassion.”
Angela Caley, Operations Manager at Linking Lives said: “The opportunities that churches have to address wellbeing and loneliness at the moment are huge, but it can feel daunting when thinking about how to make an impact. I’m looking forward to unpacking the topic more with those who are thinking about this at the moment.”
Corin Pilling, UK Director of Sanctuary Mental Health Services said: “Loneliness and isolation are issues we are continuing to encounter post-pandemic, in a way that affects all of us. We have seen some growth in awareness around mental health but there is huge pressure on those in supporting roles. Many of us feel overwhelmed. I’m heartened to hear about Cambridge churches who are already involved in their communities and are seeking to engage even more deeply in this area of wellbeing.”