Volunteering to support emotional wellbeing and mental health in Brent

Tags: Report

17th November 2021



Brent Screenshot 2021 11 17 102921

Executive summary

COVID-19 has irrefutably demonstrated the importance of collaboration across the whole health and care system, including the community, third and private sectors.

The aim of this project was to contribute to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of Brent residents, by encouraging greater support from local volunteers and the local voluntary and community sector.

This work stemmed from a recognition of the increased pressures on statutory services and worsening health inequalities. The project aimed to address the challenges that existed before and independent of the pandemic, especially the involvement of local communities in supporting the emotional wellbeing of residents, and which were worsened because of it.

The main objectives of this project were to:

  • Contribute to building a culture of collaboration and a shared vision between system partners with varying experiences of
    working together.
  • Align volunteering development with key strategic local drivers to maximise and measure the impact of improving and expanding volunteering opportunities.
  • Raise the profile of volunteering across system partners (particularly in social and primary care) and ensure its place in
    ongoing strategic conversations.
  • In time, contribute to alleviating pressure on statutory partners, their workforce, and services to improve care quality and health
    outcomes for local people.
  • Facilitate greater involvement of local people in creating more compassionate and resilient communities that work alongside and within
    the health and care system as partners.

As part of the project, Helpforce supported the development of a ‘proof of concept’ pilot which focuses on greater involvement of
local communities, by creating mechanisms for hyper local engagement, in a way that is collaborative, and reflects the needs and
expectations of the local population.

The pilot will provide the evidence base and framework to spread and scale these mechanisms more widely across Brent, North
West London and beyond. This work aims to demonstrate how, through working at a very local level, residents can be enabled to play a
more active role in supporting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of their neighbours. Ultimately, this will build more resilient and emotionally literate communities that rely less on statutory services.

Project approach


This section outlines what the project team did. The project took place over five stages:

  • Stage 1 - Project sponsors identified the need and initial priorities to get activities underway.
  • Stage 2 - The project team convened a broad and representative set of stakeholders to talk about what residents needed and how they wanted to work together.
  • Stage 3 - Local stakeholders and the project team co-developed the Collaboration Model.
  • Stage 4 - The project team ran a survey to further explore residents’ needs and build engagement.
  • Stage 5 - Hyper local forums, in the communities, planned the next steps considering the survey and other research findings.

The key features of the approach were:

  • Acting as a contributing force for community empowerment. The project activities, through the hyper-local Community Forums, armed local people with the information they needed to determine how support should be assembled and provided.
  • Starting with an open mind about what the project would do.
  • Taking an asset-based approach by building on existing networks of local people / organisations / volunteers to better equip them with the skills and resources needed to identify people needing support and then signpost them appropriately.

For the full document please download the attached PDF

Brent colab Screenshot 2021 11 17 104706

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