CommUNITY Barnet (CB) is an award-winning, multi-borough national charity based in London. Currently delivering services at a regional level we have an aspiration to grow bigger by leading innovative partnerships, harnessing the creativity of residents and supporting community organisations building on our 40 years of success, experience and track record of delivery. We are the umbrella organisation for the local voluntary and community sector (VCS) in Barnet. Established in 1979, we have been supporting and building capacity to voluntary and community groups, charities and faith groups across the borough. We promote partnership and consortium working to ensure Barnet has a thriving and sustainable sector.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
Community Barnet are working with Public Health to deliver the Suicide Prevention campaign in Barnet, following the success of phase I, we have been recommissioned to deliver phase II. Our role is to provide community engagement, working with working aged men and various communities to prevent poor mental health and suicidality amongst working age men and in high-risk community groups
So far, we have managed to reach over 2000 people through the delivery of well-being sessions and larger engagement events over phase I and II. The well-being sessions are being delivered to male dominated industries and community services supporting service users from different community groups. We invite staff from all departments to come along and discuss mental health, the barriers that prevent us from talking about mental health and seeking help, and how as a community we can change this. During the session we also introduce support services available in the local area that many people have so far said they were not aware of till the session. We are continuing to offer these wellbeing sessions to male dominated industries and various communities in Barnet and will be holding more engagement events, targeting residents, staff and all members of the community to raise awareness of Suicide Prevention.
Community Barnet are also the lead contract holder for The Barnet Well-being Service. This is an early intervention and prevention service provided in partnership by local charities to improve and support the mental health and well-being of the residents in Barnet. As part of this, CommUNITY Barnet offer Barnet Friends, a telephone befriending service for anyone affected by loneliness and isolation. Many of our service users have had experience of suicide or report having suicidal thoughts, they are supported by vetted volunteers who are trained to support a person in crisis.
What are your current priorities?
– To gain insight into how the target audience engage with mental health and specifically suicide
– To de-stigmatise mental health in the targeted group and encourage people to come forward and talk about mental health.
– To increase help-seeking behaviour amongst the target audience, by providing easily accessible resources
– To understand if the Stay Alive app and Andy’s Man Club are appropriate for the target audience.
– To encourage individuals to complete the Zero Suicide Alliance training, a short 20 minute training video which can provide the skills and confidence to have a life saving conversations
What challenges are you currently facing?
Speaking with males, they reported the stigma that is associated with them speaking about their mental health, they mention the stereotypes such as ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘man-up’ are still prevalent. Our aim is to do targeted engagement work with communities to reduce this stigma.
Working with JAMI, a mental health charity supporting the Jewish Community, it was discussed that many children have experienced suicidal thoughts or have friends that have died by suicide but parents are not actively involved with schools or local campaigns to prevent suicide. We discussed ways to encourage parents to get involved.
Working with communities we discussed how resources can be more available to all communities, for example, The Stay Alive app, a suicide prevention resource, is not available in languages that is suitable to a number of communities such as the Romanian community. We have forwarded this feedback to the public health team at the council.