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Christmas connections with West Kent Mind

For this, the Christmas issue of Sevenoaks Sports, we would like to take you back to our very first article where we looked in detail at the South London Maudsley NHS Trust’s Six Ways to Wellbeing. The aim of this initiative is to improve moods, reduce the risk of depression and strengthen relationships through easy steps that we can all take in our everyday lives. As a reminder, the six ways are: Be Active, Keep Learning, Give, Connect, Take Notice and Care.

Christmas for many is a time for celebration and families but this always comes with extra stress in the form of pressure to socialise, temptation to overindulge and financial strain. On the flip side, Christmas can be a time of increased isolation for many, for example the elderly or someone who has recently been bereaved.

For this issue we would like to focus on two of the Six Ways – Connect and Give.

By connect we mean connecting with the people around you. This could be with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours or in the local community. It has been proven that forging strong relationships is good for your mental wellbeing, so we urge you to take time to recognise your opportunities for connection and act upon them.

Connection can take many different forms. Perhaps there is a family member or friend who you have lost touch with this year, maybe through just having busy lives or maybe due to a rift or disagreement. While you can reconnect at any time of year, Christmas does provide a unique opportunity in the calendar. It is a time for reflection, for forgiveness and for re-setting our expectations of what we need and want from our relationships.

Even within our own homes, think about scheduling some time to put phones away and have a chat or even play a board game. This can make a difference to your sense of self-worth and belonging. Perhaps you are aware of someone in your street who lives alone and who you always think about when you drive past but are too busy to stop. Christmas is the perfect excuse to drop by with a card and have a cup of tea. This can be a life-saver for an elderly person who may not see people day-to-day – the power of a cuppa and a chat should never be underestimated.

A recent report from scientists at Copenhagen University found that loneliness in old age puts people at greater risk of cognitive decline, with people who feel lonely 64% more likely to develop dementia than those with an active social life. Perhaps, looking forward to the New Year, you would be able to commit some time to a voluntary programme. There are many within our community who are doing great things and even a few hours a week could make a real difference to someone’s life while also increasing your sense of connection and promoting good mental health.
We would like to highlight two schemes which we believe fit the criteria of helping make a difference to others, whilst also helping you. At West Kent Mind we run a Many Minds Befriending Programme, which uses the Wheel of Well-Being to help identify personal goals as part of the befriending service. The programme was set-up on the premise that everyone needs other people, but not everyone has someone. This can be especially true for people experiencing a mental health problem.

Lack of social contact and isolation often have an adverse effect on mental health and physical wellbeing. The aim of our befriending service is to increase social contact, confidence, and improve wellbeing. Social contact is facilitated through a weekly meeting between a befriender and a befriendee in a community setting. The results speak for themselves, with one befriendee describing their time with the befriender as “life changing” and another who was struggling to come to terms with the loss of job now back in employment as a result of the self-confidence gained through this scheme.

We desperately need both male and female volunteer befrienders to help support this scheme. If this sounds like you, then please contact angela.riley@westkentmind.org.uk for more details.
Last Christmas we worked with local community initiative Close to Hand on their Christmas Campaign One More Card, which encouraged us all to write and hand-deliver one extra card to a lonely or isolated person in our local community.

Close to Hand was set-up by a local businesswoman who identified a real need in our communities for ad-hoc, flexible home help that didn’t involve professional care but some companionship and a little helping hand with small jobs around the home, such as housework, gardening, shopping, going on errands and meal preparation.

Being struck by the high levels of loneliness facing our older communities, Close to Hand was launched as an online community which matches people looking for help to a local helper seeking flexible work that serves a purpose in their local community. For more information, whether you are in need of support for yourself or a family member or are looking to give some time, please visit www.closetohand.co.uk.

For more information on the South London Maudsley NHS Trust’s Six Ways to Wellbeing visit their website at www.wheelofwellbeing.org.

With that, we wish all of our readers a happy and peaceful festive season. Look after yourself and those around you and enjoy!

MORE INFORMATION
For more information on our services, please visit www.westkentmind.org.uk

CONTACT US
You can contact us at the following email addresses:
youthmentalhealth@westkentmind.org.uk (for training in schools)
training@westkentmind.org.uk (for enquiries about courses for individuals or organisations)
hello@westkentmind.org.uk (for general enquiries or support)

UPCOMING EVENTS & TRAINING
RED January: It is not too late to sign-up, get active and support good mental health. Just visit www.westkentmind.org.uk/community-development/red-january

Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) certified courses:

FEBRUARY
• Monday 3rd – MHFA Youth 1 day
• Friday 7th & Wednesday 12th – MHFA Adult 2 day
• Tuesday 25th – MHFA Adult 1 Day (Tunbridge Wells)

MARCH
• Wednesday 11th – MHFA Adult 1 day
• Wednesday 18th & 25th March – MHFA Adult 2 Day (Tunbridge Wells)
• Monday 23rd & Friday 27th – MHFA Youth 2 day

APRIL
• Wednesday 1st & Thursday 2nd – MHFA Adult 2 day
• Tuesday 28th – MHFA Adult 1 day

OTHER COURSES & WORKSHOPS
• Wednesday, 5th February – Self-Harm Workshop (10am-12noon, Tunbridge Wells)
• Wednesday, 5th February- Workplace Wellbeing Workshop (1-2pm, Tunbridge Wells)

All courses are in Sevenoaks unless stated otherwise.

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