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Mental health and Yarmouth churches – Finding our Way

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Anna Heydon (Development Worker, Imagine Norfolk Together) and Julie Warren (Chaplain, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, NSFT) have been working together to encourage partnership between the NSFT and churches to support the development of good mental health in the Yarmouth area.

Anna says “Mental Health problems are a significant problem in Great Yarmouth, with many people claiming incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance where the claim is for Mental Health reasons; the borough has a higher proportion of such claimants than England as a whole, East of England or Norfolk. For those of us living in the area, this is not just a statistic, it is a reality which affects many of our lives and the lives of those we care about.

“My own experience of depression has been mirrored in the lives of countless friends, along with self-harm, anxiety, psychosis and even overdoses. As I have talked to others in local churches, I have quickly discovered similar experiences across the board. Members of congregations struggling with their mental health and people coming to the church looking for help.

“There are professionals in Great Yarmouth and the NSFT who are committed and passionate about improving this situation, and are determined to work closely with others in the area to find solutions through partnership and collaboration.”

The first step towards this was an event late last year to bring local Christians and members of the NSFT together to discuss mental health and how the Church in Great Yarmouth could be part of the solution. Over 40 people from 13 different churches and organisations gathered for the event “Finding our Way: Mental Health and church communities” hosted by Park Baptist Church who also provided lunch and refreshments. The pictures on this page are of that event.

The day included talks from several NSFT professionals, including topics such as mental health awareness, spirituality and mental health, mental health provision in the area, introduction to dementia and practical strategies, breathing and mindfulness, and personal accounts of mental health problems. The second half of the day focused on small group discussions.

Since the ‘Finding our Way’ event, Julie Warren has organised hospital events involving local churches, and in response to the feedback at the ‘Finding our Way’ event, Community Champion training has been planned for later in March, which will be open to members of all local churches. This training is limited to 20 places, but further sessions will also be organised if there is sufficient demand.

Anna concluded “It is very much hoped that joint working between the NSFT and local churches (supported by Imagine Norfolk Together) can continue and expand. A discussion is already underway about future training and partnership activities. There is also discussion around running a joint Imagine Norfolk Together and NSFT event in King’s Lynn. We hope and pray that some of the hopes and dreams which people expressed at the Great Yarmouth event can become a reality.”

For more information, please contact Anna Heydon at

For more about Imagine Norfolk Together, visit:

Article courtesy of Network Norfolk.