As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, it continues to impact on many people’s mental health, in particular among communities in Earley.
A pilot project has been launched in Earley using what is known as a Population Health Management approach which sees local health, social and community services working together to reduce inequalities and improve community health and wellbeing.
During the pandemic, Earley has seen higher numbers of people being diagnosed with mental health issues. Evidence has shown some patients are reporting ‘non-clinical’ issues which are affecting their mental health and wellbeing such as losing their jobs, debt, and housing.
To help provide support to this community, Wokingham Borough Council has joined forces with Citizens Advice Wokingham, Earley Town Council, and Earley+ Primary Care Network to promote the One Front Door service as part of a pilot to help people get non-clinical support to resolve practical issues affecting their mental health.
A leaflet signposting residents to the One Front Door support is being delivered by more than 100 community volunteers to every household within Earley Town Council area. Details have also been posted on GP surgery websites.
One Front Door is run by Citizens Advice Wokingham and is funded by Wokingham Borough Council until end of March 2021. It works closely with the borough council and local voluntary organisations such as the Wokingham Volunteer Centre, First Days, Involve, Link Visiting Scheme, Age UK Berkshire - to name a few. The organisations all came together to create Wokingham Borough Community Response (WBCR) at the start of the pandemic to create a unique support network for local residents needing advice or practical support. WBCR is an additional support net to the NHS and social services.
Anyone can contact One Front Door 24/7 via its website or call it on (0300) 330 1189 Monday to Fridays, 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays, 9am to 1pm. You can also leave a voicemail out of hours.
Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for health, wellbeing and adult services at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “These are difficult times and I would encourage anyone who is struggling to get in touch with One Front Door which is manned by a dedicated team providing free, independent and impartial advice. This is a real example of partnership working and I’m pleased we’re able to reach out and offer support and advice to the Earley community.”
Jake Morrison, chief executive at Citizens Advice Wokingham, said: "It’s encouraging to be working with local authorities, the NHS and other charities to ensure we provide wrap-around support for anyone across our communities who need help moving forward. Through this effective partnership we’re able to identify the key issues our areas face and provide meaningful solutions to address them. There’s no wrong reason to call."
Councillor David Hare, chairman of Earley Town Council and Earley town mayor, said: “We see the increasing problems of differing grades of mental health discomfort across Earley and Wokingham, often compounded by problems outside the individual’s concern, especially in this pandemic. One Front Door helps people access the correct help, whether that’s assistance with the difficulties caused by the pandemic or support for their issues from health, adult services or the voluntary sector. The fact you call is enough reason to put you in touch with the services to support and enable you to work with the challenges you face, knowing you’re in touch with the best people to help you.”
Dr Amit Sharma from Earley+ Primary Care Network, said: “Our patients in Earley+ PCN (Brookside Group Practice and Wilderness Road surgery) are struggling with so many issues at this time. We know there’s a need to help empower our patients with life issues such as unemployment, housing, legal issues and debt. We also know that GPs and other clinicians are often not the right people to help in these cases. However, the right help is thankfully available through various voluntary sector and health and wellbeing services.
“That’s why we’ve been working with our partners in the voluntary sector and council to help develop One Front Door. This is a proactive service designed for people to access freely when they need it most. As Jake puts is, there’s no wrong reason to call. Working together graciously, we will make the most of the resources we have to help everyone through this challenging time and beyond.”