Mental health support pilot to be launched by Wakefield Council

13/01/2021, PR-9788

A support scheme to help people who may feel overwhelmed or emotional when venturing out to shops or businesses once the current lockdown has ended, is to be piloted by Wakefield Council.

The 'Take 5' initiative has been welcomed and endorsed by Wakefield Recovery Board, which provides support and help to residents and businesses in the district to recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council is aware that this third lockdown could impact residents' mental health.

That is why it has provided a range of resources to help residents look after themselves whilst staying at home as well as signposting them to local and national helplines.

The new scheme will work with shops, businesses and community hubs, who will be asked to display 'Take 5' posters in their windows, to let people who feel overwhelmed know they can go inside, take a breather for five minutes, where they will receive kindness, understanding and a listening ear.

Businesses will be asked to put forward staff members as ambassadors, who'd wear a pin badge – so they can be easy identified as someone who will sit down and listen to the person until they feel calmer and ready to continue with their day.

Cllr Denise Jeffrey, Chair of the Wakefield Recovery Board and Leader of Wakefield Council, said: "We know that Covid-19 has affected lives in so many ways, including having an impact on many people's mental health, because of the stresses and strains of issues such as finances, employment and social isolation. We want to ensure, that when the time is right and lockdown has ended and it is safe for people to be visiting our shops and businesses, they feel safe and supported, and know help is available."

The initiative is being developed by Wakefield Council's Mental Health Champion, Cllr Jessica Carrington, who said: "We've called it 'Take 5' because we want to ensure that if anyone feels overwhelmed, there are safe spaces in our city and towns, where they can go and take five minutes out, take a breather, and be with people who understand. Just a few minutes can make a big difference to how you feel when you receive a bit of support and kindness from someone who genuinely wants to help."

The scheme is in the early stages – and the Council expects the pilot study to start once lockdown has ended, and it is suitable to begin, in line with the government guidance at the time.

Mental health issues are known to affect one in four people during their lifetime.

Wakefield Council's 'Take 5' initiative is not intended to provide ongoing or crisis mental health support – as expert support is available.

For more information on support available to vulnerable people who may find themselves isolated at home visit: https://www.wakefield.gov.uk/about-the-council/coronavirus-information/wakefieldcares