The Bishop of the Forces, Bishop Richard Moth is to become the lead Bishop for the new mental health project of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Initiated by Day for Life funding, the Conference has recently appointed a Mental Health Worker and is set to launch a small grants programme to enable dioceses to apply for mental health project funding.
Introducing the project, Bishop Moth said: “All our parish communities are places where people with mental health difficulties seek support, pastoral care, and comfort. It will often be a place where people feel safe; a place where they feel at home, close to God. Many people will come to presbyteries and parish communities for pastoral care.
“The deployment of troops in Afghanistan is bringing many people back who are physically and mentally scarred and in that context, it’s the case that some of those problems aren’t going to emerge for a good number of years – perhaps it will take as long as 10 or 15 years before somebody who has gone through that kind of experience is able to talk about it. It is vital that, at such times in their lives, our parish communities are places where they can be welcomed, understood and feel at home.
“I think it’s really very good that the Conference is taking this opportunity to do some research; to support some projects around our dioceses, to see what is best practice across this country for the pastoral care we offer to people with mental health difficulties. That will enable us to provide resources that can be put in place for parishes, for deaneries, for schools and for dioceses so that they are better equipped to provide the care that people with mental health problems really need at this time.”
The annual Day for Life is dedicated to celebrating the dignity of life from conception to natural death and the annual collection taken up in parishes on the last Sunday in July each year is used to give grants to life-related activities supported by the Church. Funding for the Mental Health project comes from Day for Life 2008 and 2009 – both years had a mental health focus.
A Mental Health Worker has also been appointed as a result of Day for Life funding. Bishop Moth said: “Gail Sainsbury comes to this post with a background in mental health and a great commitment to the life of the church in her parish and beyond. I certainly look forward to working with her over the next two to three years as we work to provide really effective resources to assist all the dioceses and parishes in this country in our outreach to those with mental health issues.”
£70,000 from Day for Life funding will be made available for the small grants programme. The criteria are currently being devised and after the necessary approvals it is hoped to publicise and seek applications from June 2010 with a view to the awards being made and the successful projects being underway in January 2011. More details about the programme will be available in June.
A Reference Group comprising Bishop Richard Moth; Elizabeth Davies, Marriage and Family Life Project Officer of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity MIND, Julia Head, Specialist Chaplain/Joint Team Leader, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Sheila Hollins, Professor of Psychiatry of Learning Disability, St George’s University of London and immediate past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Philippa Gitlin, of Caritas Social Action, will be working closely alongside the new Mental Health Worker.
For more information about the Mental Health Worker role and to be alerted when mental health project funding becomes available please contact Gail Sainsbury: firstname.lastname@example.org
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