Well-being in community, by community for the community...
About The Geoff Ashcroft Community
The Geoff Ashcroft Community was developed as a response to a growing awareness of the high numbers of people in our community who are isolated and struggling with emotional and mental health problems. Tower Hamlets has many of the recognised risk factors for poor mental health such as population density, overcrowding, high unemployment, poverty, poor physical health and high rates of substance misuse (1). Furthermore, Tower Hamlets is ranked as the third most deprived local authority in England (2).
However, it has been recognised that there is an under diagnosis of depression within the borough suggesting people are not seeking help from statutory agencies in relation to depression, possibly because of fear of stigma or a lack of understanding regarding depression or how to seek help. The subsequent plan for Mental Health Promotion within Tower Hamlets (3) highlights the need to combat stigma and discrimination in relation to poor mental health and poor physical health and recommends culturally appropriate mental health promotion considering the demography of Tower Hamlets.
1 Tower Hamlets Mental Health Needs Assessment 2007
2 Indices of Deprivation, Communities & Local Government 2007
3 Enum, Y. and Yphantides, A. (2008) Mental Health Promotion Strategy. Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust
The Geoff Ashcroft Community is a direct response by the local church to the isolation and lack of community that people experiencing mental or emotional distress can often feel, and which contributes to a worsening of their mental health problems and isolation.
We started our work in February 2006. The project was named after a local young man who took his own life after failing to find support for his mental and emotional distress. His story reflects the experience of the isolation and lonliness of many in our community struggling with emotional and mental health difficulties.
Since that time a community of members has been established, The Geoff Ashcroft Community offers a place of belonging and safety in which members can be empowered to improve their emotional and mental well-being and connect with the wider community.
Our members are people who have struggled with emotional and mental health difficulties and until engaging with the project, were isolated in their distress, struggling to find a safe, supportive structure and relationships. Many felt unable to, or did not want to engage with other services.
Through their involvement in the community, members have become less isolated and more able to connect with others. Members have been helped to re-engage with the wider community and make a positive contribution to themselves and others such as: returning to work after long-term unemployment; entering into higher education; passing their first exams; engaging in courses to learn new skills and exhibiting and selling personal artwork.
In 2009, The Geoff Ashcroft Community was short-listed for a Faithworks Award (The Community Excellence Award: Adult Helath and Social Care 2009). Out of 150 applicants, GAC made it on to the final short-list of "17 outstanding projects".
The Geoff Ashcroft Community is a project of the E1 Community Church. E1 Community Church is an ‘excepted charity’ under Section 30 (2) (b) of the Charities Act 2011.