Oakleaf Enterprise has been supporting people in Surrey with mental ill health return to employment or education since 1997. Last week, HRH The Earl of Wessex wished Oakleaf a happy 21st birthday, in paying them a celebratory visit. We asked Clive Stone, the charity’s Chief Executive, about the work they do.
I feel honoured to have been asked to write a blog post for the Community Foundation for Surrey, from the perspective of a charity which has been supported by their work. If I recall correctly we were one of the first charities to receive funding from the organisation.
When they emerged, I am ashamed to admit that my first sense was one of suspicion and doubt, thinking they would hover up all of the local money, and leave nothing for those working at the coal face. Thankfully, I was very wrong and the support we have gained could not have been achieved without them. It is not just financial support, but I know we have also benefited indirectly from the positive exposure we have gained via our involvement.
Oakleaf has continued to grow over a number of years, to where we are now at the point of delivering our services right across Guildford, Waverley and Surrey Heath. We are currently supporting over 400 people every week, all of whom suffer from mental health problems with varying degrees of severity. We provide an enormous range of well-being activities encompassing: yoga, mindfulness, mindful colouring, art, Tai Chi, physical fitness and football to name but a few. The latest addition to these activities is the launch of our male choir, which has been made entirely possible through the generosity of Foundation donors. We are very excited about this development, as there is fantastic evidence about the benefits of singing upon mental health and from what we are seeing with our fledgling group, this is very true.
Alongside the aforementioned, we run two social enterprises which deliver a commercial upholstery service and a garden maintenance business. Both have similar goals of training, building confidence and skills whilst generating an income. Additionally, we deliver training in IT, literacy and numeracy and have a very busy counselling service which we run at our Guildford HQ for our clients, plus at George Abbot School for many pupils who require psychological support.
Finally, we are just about to embark upon a joint project with two other local charities. This is the development of a well-being café in Guildford, to not only provide well-being activities, but help combat isolation, provide a meal and teach people how to cook.
If you would like to know any more about Oakleaf, please get in touch with me. In the meantime, put a date in your diary for the 24th November. This is when our new choir will be taking their first steps into a public arena, performing alongside three other established choirs in our annual music event!
To find out more about the work we do, please feel free to contact me: