Accessibility Fund 2016

Our mission is to reduce suffering, promote resilience and realise human potential across the lifespan through mindfulness.

As a not-for-profit charity, our objectives are to work actively to make the benefits of mindfulness attainable for all who might benefit, through building collaborations, partnerships and networks.  The first Accessibility Fund scheme in 2016 offered grants to support projects which will widen access to and participation in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness practice. We initially had a fund of £25,000, but due to the quality of the applications received we raised additional funds to bring the total to £32,000. A further £25,000 is available in 2017.

The following projects were awarded funding in 2016:

Mindfulness without Borders – Refugees

£4507 was awarded to Ariana Faris at Mindfulness without Borders to support a pilot project providing mindfulness-based courses for stress reduction and trauma relief to Arabic- and Farsi-speaking asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. The project is supported by the Welsh Refugee Council, Refugee Trauma Initiative and several London based refugee organisations. The pilot is being run in Cardiff and London, both of which support large numbers of refugees. They are also producing a website with guided practices and information in Farsi (few resources and information exist in this language), and links to existing resources in Arabic.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

MBCT in area of deprivation, Bristol

£3932 was awarded to Julia Wallond at the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine, which with the Southmead Development Trust is piloting and evaluating a one-off MBCT course to residents  of the Southmead estate in Bristol, with recurrent depression. This estate is a deprived area where locals report high rates of depression, and where MBCT is not available as a relapse prevention approach. So far, local people have completed the courses, and initial feedback has been very positive. Now they are looking to see how they can build on this momentum and continue ongoing practice within the community. Long-term, they hope that their evaluation will be used as evidence to advocate for MBCT services within Southmead, and similar areas of deprivation.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

The BeingWell project, Tower Hamlets

£3990 was awarded to Dr Sherylin Thompson at The BeingWell project, which is piloting and evaluating MBCT courses for patients being discharged from secondary to primary mental health services in Tower Hamlets. Here, mental health services have very limited funding compared to other London boroughs. This work will crucially widen their access to high quality mental health care, and has the potential to reduce patient returns to inpatient care. Doctoral psychology student Louise Norhana is running the project, supervised by Dr Trisha Patel at the University of East London. The project proposal has been finalised, and they are about to start recruitment of 36 patients with depression, anxiety and/or psychosis.

Prison staff and inmates

£4000 was awarded to Andy Phee at the Pentonville Prison Mindfulness Project, which aims to introduce, develop, and support the use of MBCT with staff from three prisons, along with prisoners, over two years. Research suggests that prison staff have high levels of job stress, and burnout (Finney et al., 2013), while half of the UK prison population suffer from anxiety and depression (Ministry of Justice, 2013). Importantly, prisoners suffering from these conditions have higher rates of reoffending (Ministry of Justice, 2012). MBCT could play a crucial role in improving the mental health of staff and prisoners, with knock-on benefits to society.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

Supported Housing – young people and front line staff

£3580 was awarded to Kate Stewart at the Bringing Mindfulness to Young People in Supported Housing project, which trains, supports, and empowers front-line housing workers and the young people that they support. This collaborative strategy aims to develop a sustainable and realistic approach to delivering MBCT to vulnerable young people, who have had little or no opportunity to develop coping mechanisms, emotional regulation, self-compassion or resilience. For them, mindfulness could be a life-changer.

Dementia Carers and Patients

£3937 was awarded to Catharine Arakelian to introduce mindfulness to 160 caregivers and 64 people living with dementia in residential care homes, and for creating guidelines for teaching mindfulness to this population. There is a widespread belief that people with dementia cannot ‘learn’, and are therefore not encouraged to assist their own care. Caregivers in dementia homes are emotionally engaged in their work but can neglect their own self-nurture, resulting in emotional overload, anxiety and stress. Both of these groups experience significant barriers to accessing mindfulness, and might gain benefit from mindfulness teaching. We look forward to learning of the impact of mindfulness on the life of dementia sufferers and their carers, and seeing the guidelines produced to continue on this great work.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

Mindful Parenting

£4600 was awarded to The Mindful Parenting Community Project, who are delivering a range of mindfulness training courses, workshops, and information for parents and professionals working with families and children in the Bristol and Avon area. Specifically they will focus on 3 vulnerable groups with barriers to access: perinatal parents with mental health problems, parents from a deprived area, and adoptive parents. This group of vulnerable and disadvantaged families would not otherwise have access to mainstream mindfulness courses, although they have the potential to improve resilience, parenting, and positive engagement in the community. We look forward to seeing how mindfulness could produce a virtuous cycle of benefit for parents and then their children.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

The leaders of the accessibility projects recently presented their projects at a day long session on accessibility and diversity in the teaching and practice of mindfulness at Bangor University’s Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice conference, which took place in Chester on 7-11 July.