In Cranbrook, 2021/22 has been a year of great highs with periodic stalls from the pandemic, but this has not stopped the exciting work taking place. The year kick-started with feedback from their Covid Community group expressing concern about mental health across the town. This unfortunately has been the theme across the UK. Cranbrook Town Council responded by externally funding to provide a self-esteem course and a heads-up café for their teens. This then led to better engagement from their most vulnerable young adults within their home, school and community settings.
Cranbrook Town Council then swiftly moved to creating the extraordinarily successful Mindfulness Trail in Cranbrook Country Park, which used audio QR codes to navigate families around the trail. This activity assisted residents to move and learn about their natural environment, all the while undertaking mindfulness activities. Over 750 residents took party in this trail with small children enjoying scanning the codes. Families made it a day activity with picnics and there was the notable increase in park use. Residents fed back about how they had felt doing the activity in what was described as a very unstable period.
The summer was then quickly upon them, and they had the wonderful opportunity of running a holiday club (Holiday Activity Food – HAF Funding). Their teens had four days over four weeks to move, eat healthily, make friends and go on experience days. They had great fun with BBQs in the park, canoeing, Go Karting, laser tag, dodgeball, art and so much more. Young adults had life changing experiences as it had been the first time they were included in a mainstream activity, low-income families had access to healthy meals and Covid lead parents got well-earned breaks.
This prompted the first ever Cranbrook Mental Health Survey to try and understand how the town was dealing with the effects of the pandemic. As a brand-new town, connecting services often proves difficult and so a new resource hub and community signposting directory were established within the Younghayes Centre giving residents the tools to empower themselves when change is needed. This hub is now a gateway to information for residents to use, with free internet access, printing, and resources to reduce barriers to vital services. Although mental health is foremost, Cranbrook has taken some significant steps to improving the town’s future wellbeing.
Councils interested in supporting mental health and wellbeing in their communities can find a wealth of resources on NALC’s website including case studies of work that councils have done and talks from their 2020 Health and Wellbeing Week.
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