21 May PRESS RELEASE: Oakleaf receives National Lottery Funding as part of ‘Pathways to Work’ Project
Guildford-based mental health charity, Oakleaf Enterprise, is today celebrating after being awarded three years of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to increase support for hundreds of individuals struggling with mental ill-health in Surrey.
Oakleaf has been helping the community manage its mental ill-health since 1995; having started with just 40 clients, the charity now supports over 500 people each year.
Clive Stone, Chief Executive of Oakleaf, said: “Oakleaf is delighted to receive support from the National Lottery during what have been incredibly challenging times for everyone. This is a very exciting opportunity for the charity; the funding will help us to provide personalised support for clients throughout the entire employment process: teaching new skills, on to job search, through applying and into the first months of employment, so our clients have all the skills and support they need to succeed.”
Helen Bushell, Senior Head of Regional Funding for London, South East & East at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “For so many the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown have exacerbated feelings of loneliness and stress. Throughout this time, keeping people connected and finding ways to reduce isolation have been priorities for communities across the country. Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re delighted to be able to award Oakleaf Enterprise this vital funding, which will help many people, across Surrey, who are experiencing issues with their mental health and securing sustainable employment.”
The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will see
Oakleaf create a complete ‘Pathways to Work’ package for clients. This means ‘topping and tailing’ their experience at Oakleaf so that they can secure the skills, confidence and training needed to return to the workplace.
In a recent client survey, 76% of Oakleaf clients said they wished they had heard of Oakleaf earlier in their mental health journey. The ‘topping’ will therefore involve attracting clients to their services at the earliest possible point by developing and strengthening their network of contacts with local referrers. Having enrolled to train at Oakleaf, clients will be able to access all the wider services they provide, including the hugely successful social inclusion activities, their expanding counselling support and regular reviews to ensure maximum benefits are being achieved.
The charity will introduce an additional, tailored range of City and Guild work-related courses that could see up to 30 clients completing training and 15 clients moving to employment within the first year; thereby helping to ensure greater financial inclusivity within the local economy and increasing personal worth and confidence. On completing qualifications, all clients will be paired with a mentor and undertake focused back-to-work support including job application techniques, interview practice and CV writing as well as have the opportunity to attend a regular peer-support group. Furthermore, the ‘tailing’ will focus on each client’s onwards progression from Oakleaf, whether that be moving into work, volunteering or further education, ensuring that their employment remains long term and sustainable.
“The team were all really understanding and supportive when I was going through a very difficult time. Even since I left, they have continued to contact me to check that I am okay; their kindness and dedication to helping people has really changed my life. I continue to use the skills I learned at Oakleaf to manage my mental health on a daily basis and as a result of my experience, I decided to apply to college. I am now in my second year and training to be a therapeutic counsellor so that I can help people the same way that Oakleaf helped me.” – Oakleaf client
During lockdown, much of Oakleaf’s support had to be delivered remotely; and now that restrictions have eased, they are moving to a ‘blended model’ of delivery, providing support both in-person and virtually. Oakleaf will use the funds to expand on their remote support so that they can accommodate more clients and ensure that everyone has access to the help they need, including those too anxious to attend face-to-face sessions or who reside further away.
Oakleaf provides its services for clients through three main pillars of support: work-related training, wellbeing activities, and counselling support. It currently offers dozens of virtual activities, workshops and support groups each week, such as art therapy, cooking and nutrition, fitness classes, choir, yoga, anxiety management workshops and many more. The charity also acts as a social enterprise, not only creating skill-based training for clients but also selling its services to the public, generating additional income. For more information, please visit: www.oakleaf-enterprise.org
Contact details: Jen Clay, Fundraising and Partnership Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
About: The National Lottery Community Fund
We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. National Lottery players raise £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.