In 2016 My Cheddar and Cheddar Medical Centre Patient Group recognizing the benefits to be gained in coordinating local activities successfully applied to the Lottery for funding to with a focus across the areas of preventive health and wellbeing, economic development and community and environment. The bid was successful and funding enabled a comprehensive ‘needs and data’ analysis as a foundation for a Community Plan to close gaps, meet the demands of the community, and to uncover additional as yet unrecognized community needs. The result was a professional factual evidence based ‘needs and feasibility’ analysis of the whole community.
The evidence obtained from this project supported the first stage of preparing a strategic Cheddar Community Plan that developed solutions to newly recognized issues. The work was the first stage of moving from a ‘reactive’ community to a proactive and sustainable planned and ‘preventive’ community to reduce demand on stretched local services and make more effective and efficient use of available resources.
The research highlighted parents’ frustration over the perceived increasing incidents of emotional health issues of young people in the Cheddar area, and highlighted some of the actual emotional and mental health issues being exhibited in Cheddar and the lack of practical services and signposts for parents and young people to access. The evidence supported the view that the emotional and mental health of our young people was a concern for the Cheddar community. Services and support at that time were not effective in supporting either the young person or their parents/carers.
In 2017 the Cheddar Community Partnership with support from Mind and the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group had an opportunity to apply for one-off funding to test out and strengthen the role of the voluntary and community sector in the provision of early emotional wellbeing and mental health support for CYP. Our application was successful and so The Space was ‘born’.
Over the next three years The Space offered and expanded services, worked strategically across the County with statutory agencies and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to encourage and embrace change. Our work with others saw much needed services being delivered in our area and this continues.
In April 2020, The Space became a charity. The Objects of The Space is to enhance in life, to preserve and protect the mental health of children, young people and their families and carers for Public benefit in Somerset. We look forward to achieving our objectives and future aspirations detailed below.
What we do
The Space project is local, independent, tailored for the local situation. We support local young people 4-18 years living with low mental health and emotional resilience and often in crisis, e.g. depression, anxiety, attempted suicide, etc. potentially caused by several issues, including abuse, neglect, and trauma.
We currently offer free Counselling services provided by qualified and experienced counsellors at various locations in Cheddar. We provide targeted activities specifically developed for The Space in a non-school/service venue, to build relationships, establish trust and confidence to increase the chance young people will engage further and seek support. Young people are informed about The Space’s services by our local schools, health and social care colleagues and community organisations.
Our weekly ‘Space Base – youth club’ for young people aged 10-13 years was launched in October and is attracting young people who can come together to have fun, chat, and chill.
The Space established a Team around the Community where County and local organisations and statutory agencies came together to not only support our project but to act as a voice for all those that provide services to children and young people. We were so successful that we were chosen by NHS England and Somerset CCG to pilot a new iThrive Framework to replace the current Community And Mental Health Services Tiers which do not provide the necessary timely support for children and young people needing preventative support. Our aim is to continue the current work and develop into providing preventative intervention before a crisis stage is reached.
In March 2020 we were awarded funds to lead a unique Somerset Children & Young People’s Counselling Alliance to support the lack of counselling in the County. The Alliance have pledged to align to the highest of quality assurance standards with service provision; adopt a shared mark of credibility.
Collaborative and partnership working is key and we partner with a number of likeminded organisations to deliver services and support to families in our area such as In Charley’s Memory, Young Somerset, Somerset Parent/Carer Forum, Promise Works, Mendip Rotary, Cheddar Parish Council and Somerset Activity and Sport Partners and Mind. We ensure that we participate in strategic forums and networks such as The Big Tent and Somerset Engagement Advisory Group.
Our work is imbedded in a belief that we operate in a broad Circle of Support around young people and work towards obtaining a network of people and organisations to help wherever a child or young person is in their mental health journey. To further reach out to young people, parents, and carers we are developing:
A Therapeutic and Wellbeing Garden (Spring 2021)
Parent support training (Early 2021)
Listening service for parents and carers (December 2020)