Churches in London will be equipped to offer more mental health and isolation support to their communities under a new programme launched by the Diocese of London.
In a partnership with three specialist charities, churches will receive training and resources to provide vital mental health and isolation support in their local community. This new offer of support comes as part of the wider Diocese of London Lent Appeal, which aims to raise money and awareness of the issues of mental health and isolation in our communities.
Launching the campaign in St Dionis Church West London, the Bishops of London and Kensington emphasised the huge potential of churches to strengthen community mental health services, and paid tribute to the charities and churches which already deliver support. The event, hosted in partnership with the Mind and Soul Foundation brought together charities and churches for presentations and an interactive conference to share ideas and build connections.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said:
“Churches are ideally placed to provide mental health support in their communities, supplementing the work of local services and the NHS. Our churches are at the heart of their communities, geographically as well as socially, and can reach out to people in need of support.
“We do not yet fully understand the toll that the past two years of the pandemic has had on all of our mental health, and the return to normal, busier life will come with its own challenges too. We all have a role to play in helping people access the support they need, no matter who they are, or where they are on their mental health journey.
“I’m so pleased that London’s churches will be working with these three inspirational charities, to transform the services they can provide to their communities and raise awareness of the charities’ work. The new partnerships built during this campaign will bring long-lasting benefits for Londoners.”
The Bishop of Kensington, Graham Tomlin, said:
“Questions surrounding good mental health are on our minds a great deal these days. Good mental health depends on a strong sense of connection to others and a sense of purpose in life which Christian faith can bring.
“Churches do a great deal to support their communities in practical ways, yet this year’s Lent appeal invites us as parishes across London to partner with three excellent charities to find new ways to help build good mental health in our local communities.”
Director of the Mind and Soul Foundation, Revd Will Van Der Hart, said:
“We are delighted to see The Diocese of London’s commitment to the promotion of positive mental health through the local church. We would urge other dioceses to see the huge potential presented through local church collaborations both with NHS providers and third sector organisations like the excellent ones represented at the Bishop of London’s Lent Appeal. Churches can not only better serve the emotional health needs of their own congregations but also make a significant and valuable impact on the mental health of the nation as a whole.”
The Lent Appeal campaign will focus on raising awareness around issues of mental health and wellbeing for adults and young people, along with domestic abuse. Churches will fundraise and partner with three specialist charities, each with a complementary focus.
Working with Renew Wellbeing, churches will be empowered to create quiet safe spaces where it’s “ok to not be ok.” Meanwhile, the charity Restored will equip churches to understand and challenge domestic abuse and create a safe place for survivors. The third partner charity, Headstrong, a project led by Youthscape and supported by the Mind and Soul Foundation, works with churches to support young people around mental health and anxiety.