Jewish Action for Mental Health (JAMH) and Greater Manchester Neshomo met with the Minister for Faith, Baroness Scott of Bybrook, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, on Thursday afternoon. The meeting, alongside partners from their £93,900 Faith New Deal Pilot Fund project, looked at its results and discussed implications.

Baroness Scott was hugely impressed with the work undertaken and said, “I didn’t realise the breadth of what had been done with the small amount of money we gave you and the holistic nature of the project, working together across communities.” She was keen to receive more information on what had been achieved through the project so that she could discuss with government colleagues how such work could be supported in future and replicated elsewhere.

Jonny Wineberg, Trustee of JAMH who also has the role of Project Officer, said, “We are immensely proud of what we have achieved here, exceeding the targets we agreed, benefiting thousands of people facing both food poverty and mental health issues. We emphasised to Baroness Scott the fact that poverty is the single biggest driver of ill health, and that the relationship is bi-directional in that poverty causes ill health, and ill health causes poverty. Anxiety and depression are 50% more prevalent in the most deprived tenth of the country so, in Greater Manchester, that means 25% of households. Also the fact that children living in low-income households are more than three times as likely to have a mental health condition than those in high-income households.”

Dr David Marshall, Chair of Neshomo, said, “We were able to explain our befriending, social prescribing and link work with hospitals to the Baroness and she clearly understood both its importance and impact. We are hopeful that she will, as she indicated, take back some of what she has heard to colleagues across departments so that they can support this as best practice both for ourselves and elsewhere.”

Kate Lurie, Project Manager at JAMH, said, “We were delighted to show Baroness Scott the fantastic outcomes of this project and what can be achieved by working together with partners both within and outside the Jewish community.”

The project partners also include L’Chaim Foodbank, Rainbow Surprise, Manchester Sikh Foundation (also known as Feed My City), Salford Community & Voluntary Services, and Salford Foodshare Network.

Outcomes from the project so far include 100% satisfaction with mental health support received; 96% saying that support had met their specific faith/cultural needs; 100% that access to a culturally sensitive service was of added benefit compared to mainstream services; 86% that support helped reduced their social isolation; and 87% that support had reduced fear of addressing their mental health.

57.7% of respondents reported reduced need to seek help from the NHS, whilst only 5.1% reported increased need.

Clients’ average confidence of making positive choices about their life rose from 4.71 before support to 7.40 after, a 2.7 point jump. Average rating of mood rose from 3.33 before support to 7.05 after, a 3.7 point jump.

Comments from beneficiaries included:

• I sometimes feel misunderstood by mainstream services and it’s hard for me to explain myself, it makes things more stressful. When Neshomo are involved, I feel more relaxed.

• By using a Jewish service, they are already aware of some of the issues that the religion faces, the laws and the way most think as well as many people’s upbringing. I do not have to waste time in explaining certain aspects of my belief. Also, I am always scared that non-Jewish sensitive services would be more judgmental due to not fully understanding where I come from.

• Greater confidence in appropriateness of therapist for cultural needs, faster build up of rapport resulting in faster progress towards goal.

• I look at things more positively and I’m smiling more, my relationship with my family has been so much better. I can deal with situation without becoming upset and angry.

The presentation given to Baroness Scott is included with this Press Release.

People needing mental health support in the Jewish community can contact JAMH on 07510 204 844 or email, or Neshomo on 07741 625 345 (males) and 07512 578 587 (females). Feed My City can be reached on 0300 3653101 and Rainbow Surprise on 07515 110208.