Mental health charities working Together for You in Northern Ireland

Together for You logo

In 2013, nine leading mental health organisations came together to bid for an innovative mental health and wellbeing contract funded by the Big Lottery Fund.  There was a recognition that together they could offer much more to beneficiaries.

This collaborative project was led by Action Mental Health (AMH) organisations Aware, CAUSE, Cruse, MindWise, NexusNI, Praxis Care, RelateNI and The Rainbow Project came together under the project name Together For You to bid for and win the contract to deliver services within this £3million collaborative project.

Since its launch on World Mental Health Day in October 2013, the Together For You project has gone from strength to strength. To date 27, 980 individuals (as at end of July 2015) have benefited from the services, which include befriending, bereavement support, support for carers, counselling (CBT, Trauma and Relationship), mental health education and awareness programmes, volunteer programmes and training and peer group support for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender individuals living in Northern Ireland.

Amanda Jones, Project Manager for Together For You, said

This has been a fantastic partnership project to work on from its inception. The Together For You project is the first time a partnership of this kind has been established with nine voluntary organisations, committed to achieving a joint vision and outcomes. Fostering a culture of collaboration in order to maximise the potential of the partnership was, and is, high on the agenda of every Steering Group and Operational Group meeting held.

“Together, we have developed internal working practices and processes that encourage joint decision making and information sharing, a cross referral process across and between services; a joint evaluation system using document sharing technology; and a private members area of the website for sharing of information and evaluation data.  In addition, the partnership regularly co-ordinates joint events and health fairs and social media campaigns aimed at increasing mental health awareness and reducing stigma surrounding mental ill-health.”

Whilst the funding received from the Big Lottery Fund has enabled new and innovative services to be developed, and separately the expansion of some services into new Trust areas, it is the collaboration element which makes this project truly unique and allows Together For You to maximise both the reach and the capacity building aspect of the project in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Amanda explains

Working in partnership, we have been able to maximise the capacity building aspect of the project in two ways.

“Firstly the partner organisations, staff and volunteers are more knowledgeable about each-others organisations and services ensuring appropriate referral and signposting to sources of support. They have also been able to access quality training such as bereavement awareness and WRAP which would not have been available otherwise.

“Secondly, our partner organisations have also used the learning from the project to inform improvements to services and their internal processes, for example both Cruse Bereavement Care and AMH MensSana have replicated the shared learning model within their operational teams.

Together For You is now in its final year, with service delivery due to end in April 2016.  Until then the focus is still very much on providing high quality mental health programmes and maximising the learning obtained from the partnership. However the Steering Group are also looking beyond the life of the project in order to ensure a lasting legacy remains of the hard work achieved with the help of the Big Lottery Fund.

We are delighted that CollaborationNI is able to facilitate workshops for the partnership, in order to tease out ideas on how best to do this. I look forward to sharing the outcomes of these meetings in a further article later in the year”, Amanda Jones, Project Manager.

For further information on Together For You visit www.togetherforyou.org.uk or contact Amanda Jones, Project Manager for Together For You on 028 9032 9150.