“Help adults improve their job prospects, skills, confidence and mental wellbeing”

Event organisers' greetings

In our event Friends Centre’s organised the event “Self Health“, which is a part of a government funded National Adult Education Mental Health Research Project. As part of this project we delivered free courses in a range of subjects and measured their impact on the mental wellbeing of those with mild to moderate mental health challenges. The courses were in English and took place at different education providers around Brighton and Hove, including at Friends Centre.

We aimed at giving individuals life skills and helping them feel healthier and experience improved mental wellbeing. The  DfE (Department for Education) Adult Education Mental Health research is testing out if short, non-formal community learning courses can help people develop strategies to manage their mild to moderate mental health problems (like stress, worry, anxiety and depression). Working together with over 50 other research sites in England as part of a larger project with DfE, we hope to show that adult education courses can have a positive effect on people’s mental health and benefit hundreds of adults across the country. We also aim to raise awareness of Mental Health issues and provide access to learning to vulnerable people.

We managed to recruite, so far, 359 learners in year 1 of the project and 180 learners in year 2 of the project so far – the last stage of the project is currently recruiting for courses in May/June. Analysis of the impact of the courses is ongoing but we’ve had some really positive feedback from learners so far:

“I really look forward to being in class each week, it’s the highlight of my week and brings me lots of joy” (Learner from a Print and Stitch course, who then progressed onto an accredited qualification with Friends Centre in Fashion & Dressmaking)

“Since attending and completing the course, my depression and anxiety have decreased substantially to the point where my outlook on life has significantly improved. The course has helped change my outlook on life and has also given me a sense of purpose and self-worth.” (Learner from a Photography course)

In the future, we will recruite learners for the final stage of our project. We are building on the success of our arts and crafts classes and offering more in sewing and knitting as well as beginner IT skills and confidence building. 

Our message: Friends Centre is an organisation where people can develop their knowledge, skills, understanding and creativity in a supportive environment. We aim to help learners achieve aspirations and meet challenges and we promote tolerance, social justice, environmental sustainability and international understanding. We believe all of this is important to both local and international society and we hope that European policy makers not only agree, but will continue to support organisations that help adults improve their job prospects, skills, confidence and their mental wellbeing. 

Phil Bedford / Friends Centre

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