The National Lottery Community Fund has awarded GMLPF £9,925 to fund vital research and training in mental health supporting organisations in the skills sector. Ian Lomas, Chief Executive of GMLPF and Debbie Tagoe, Chair of GMLPF, welcome the investment made by the Community Fund as it will enable GMLPF to undertake more important work in the area of mental health.
What Matters To People
The lottery fund prioritises projects that matter to people and to communities and gives money to ‘great projects or ideas that bring people together and build strong relationships in and across communities’. GMLPF will use the award to widen its existing mental health project that supports providers of apprenticeships and other learning.
Original research carried out by GMLPF in 2018 revealed that member organisations are spending dozens of hours each month handling the mental health issues of learners. On average each of our members is facing a student mental health incident requiring intervention more than once a week. The initial tranche of research also threw the spotlight on the mental health of training provider staff. Ian explains:
“With three in every ten students presenting with a mental health challenge, it places an enormous strain on staff. Indications are that their own mental health is being impacted which in turn has an effect on their ability to support students, creating a vicious circle. We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised the importance of our work in this area. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to explore this area in detail, improve our members’ understanding of mental health, pinpoint solutions and design training to enhance staff resilience and ability.’
The first phase of the funds will be spent on follow up research with providers. The project is designed to record the issues and map any changes since the original research last year. It will build on the first set of findings around how mental ill-health is a barrier to participation in learning programmes and its impact on achievement levels.
Taking the form of an online questionnaire and face to face qualitative research, the findings will feed into a training programme for providers. AT Skills have already successfully delivered level 2 mental health first aid and awareness courses for GMLPF members. They will be further tailoring their programme in line with the research findings to ensure it meets providers’ changing needs. For example, indications from the initial phase of the project show that the mental health of staff, as well as that of learners, is a growing issue. The course will reflect this and will be delivered over two days, with participants gaining a level 2 qualification.
Ambassadors Skilled Up To Help Peers
Another slice of the funding will be spent on skilling up Liverpool City Region Apprentice Ambassadors who will be trained in mental health awareness. The ambassadors will complete a one day course delivered by 3D Training. This innovative programme sets out to help plug the gap in post-16 mental health support. Through the course, participants will gain an enhanced understanding of spotting mental health issues and signposting sufferers. Siobhan Saunders of Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Hub explains:
“We don’t want apprentices falling through the net because of mental health issues. Training and understanding will result in young people getting the help they need to lead a happier life and complete their qualifications. The ambassadors can help remove stigma and boost the number of their peers who receive essential support.”
The award from the National Lottery Community Fund will also be used to develop an online suite of resources for both providers and learners. The choice of materials available will be in line with findings from the research carried out but are likely to include links to videos, further training resources, leaflets and case studies as well as signposts for further help and assistance.