New Chair of Trustees at MindSpace

New Chair of Trustees at MindSpace

22 November 2021

Beka Avery has become the new chair of Mindspace Stamford. She was elected to the post at a recent MindSpace board meeting, which also saw the departure of three hard-working trustees and the addition of several new trustees to the charity’s board.

Beka says: “I am super excited to take on the role of Chair of MindSpace, offering grateful thanks, on behalf of the charity, for the efforts of original Board trustees Cassie Petrie, Louise Bellis and Paul Sinfield who have stepped down this autumn.

“Since I joined the charity as a trustee in 2020 I have had the opportunity to meet so many new and interesting people that make up the Stamford Community and have never felt so connected to the town I get to call home.

“We are surrounded by so many kind, generous and talented people and I can’t wait to explore new and creative ways that we can collaborate on for the benefit of our community,” Bekacontinues. “I have a very talented team of trustees behind me who have knowledge and skills in a broad range of fields, so getting to know and work with this new ‘super team’ will also be a big part of this new adventure.”

Founder of MindSpace Stamford and Trustee, Dr Dan Petrie says: “Having seen MindSpace grow from a simple meeting with fellow citizens interested in how mental health is supported locally to a fully-fledged charity with great ambitions for how we as a community support each other is incredibly humbling. The new trustees come with ideas and energy to push forwards as we are needed more than ever.”

MindSpace took an additional step forward this month when it welcomed a new Peer Support Worker, Sammy, to the team. Beka explains: “Sammy’s role is to provide long-term support to people looking to reconnect with their community as part of their journey towards recovering their positive mental health.”

Ready to face the challenges

Looking to the future, Beka, who works at the University of Leicester as Pathways Project Manager, says: “MindSpace has weathered the storm that was Covid and demonstrated that we are a resilient and dynamic small charity, but yet there are still challenges. The pandemic has had a profound impact on people’s mental well-being, with referrals to formal NHS mental health support services increasing. People need MindSpace more than ever but at the same time, like many charities, we have seen donations drop off significantly.

“Our aim to advocate the NHS 5 Ways to Well-being (connect, be active, take notice, learn, give) will continue and an important part of that is removing the cost of participation in activities as a potential barrier wherever we can. However, ensuring the sustainability of the charity is an immediate challenge.

“The aim for the coming year is to have our premises on Broad Street open full-time (at least Monday to Friday) as a community hub where everyone can come to connect with others and explore their interests. It really is a relaxing, modern space that’s begging to be utilised.

“We will also be focusing on how we support local businesses to support their teams – the workplace is set to look very different post Covid and given that the majority of people spend most of their time at work, it’s really important that we have mentally healthy workplaces.”

Offering invaluable support

Despite the challenges of Covid, MindSpace has been actively supporting local people. Since August 2020, 3,534 sessions have been accessed by individual members as part of a programme offering support across 19 activities, all aligned to the 5 Ways to Well-being and chosen for the programme based on community consultation findings. Beka says: “We had to quickly adapt how we provided support to our members during a difficult time which we did by offering our full programme virtually. The feedback was really moving – our members shared that having access to these activities was critical in enabling them to maintain their wellbeing.

“What’s more, 2,700 primary-aged children took part in our six-week long journaling project delivered in partnership with Art Pop-Up. Pupils received a journal and were given the opportunity to explore the practice of journal keeping as a way of looking after their mental health.

“We have trained 30 volunteers to be listeners and have ambitions to grow this team and integrate them into as many groups and services in the town as we can.

“Our community garden is coming together and is set to be a gorgeous multi-purpose space once it’s completed, thanks to the vision and efforts of our steering group and helpers ­– we will be continuing to fundraise to get this project completed.

“Finally, having proactively adopted an asset-based community development approach to how we deliver our services, volunteers are now coming forward to ask for support to launch their own groups which has led to the formation of walking, making and running groups.”

The charity is keen to encourage more community support, with participation in local challenges and events, as well as fundraising activities. Beka says: “If you have time to give or a skill to share in helping support fellow Stamford residents to maintain positive mental health and well-being, then we would love to hear from you.”

Life-saving work

Outgoing chair, Helen Howe, says: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been the first Chair of MindSpace Stamford. We have achieved so much more than we envisaged in a very short time. In particular the acquisition of our town centre base has opened up so many more opportunities to diversify and extend our offer.

“It has been hard work and we have all learned much along the way but, most importantly, we know that we have made a difference to individuals and to the wider community. It is humbling when some members say that MindSpace has in fact saved their lives.

“Different phases of an organisation need different leadership: Beka brings an exciting vision and energy and will be ably supported by an outstanding group of talented trustees. We continue to work with and for the people of Stamford and surrounding areas.”