‘Happier Together’ with the Mental Health Scale-Up Fund

11th March 2024

a light pink background with cupped hands holding a drawn brain symbolising Mental Health Awareness

This UN International Day of happiness theme is ‘happier together’ so we are celebrating the amazing achievements of our Mental Health Scale-Up Fund which really demonstrates what a bunch of people can achieve together through the power of positive thinking.

In 2022 applications for our funding by groups supporting young people with mental health issues had increased by 260% on the previous year. There was a real crisis in the mental health of our county’s children.

We knew that over many years we had funded great organisations to do really positive work with measurable impacts on mental health and wellbeing in children and young people BUT we had only ever been able to give small grants, for short periods. This wasn’t good enough.

We set out to put a new fund in place to identify what was working and scale it up. Our aim was for every child and young person in Surrey to be able to access help and support. We committed to awarding 5-year funding, which would also support learning and sharing of best practice. We had no donors at this point – but failure wasn’t an option, because it was too important.

We were thrilled to raise £1m from a group of 4 brave donors who backed our idea, and Surrey County Council matched it – so far we have raised £2,046,962,29 and we have pledges in for another £0.5m this year.

We started our work by carrying out an extensive listening programme to identify priorities and published the report so that others can use it too. We have used it to prioritise what we fund.

We committed to running one funding round a year – to date we have awarded £763,666 in Grants. In addition to the funding, all our partner organisations can access our Funder Plus volunteers to help with business & financial planning and governance support as they grow their programmes in a sustainable way.

Finally, we all come together annually – donors, trustees of CFSurrey and our partner charities and community organisations, sitting around a table together to hear what is working – and what isn’t – so that we all learn together how best to tackle this huge and challenging problem.

Why haven’t we simply given all the funds away as fast as possible? Because it is too important to do that. We are trying to make a systemic change in our county – so that the support system for children and young people is universally available to all those who need help AND so that early intervention, preventative support is available to all – rather than waiting until our young people face mental health crisis.

We think deeply and carefully about how we award funds, using the results of our consultation to prioritise. We listen to our partner organisations about how we can support in a way that will continue to make a positive difference long after our first grant has finished funding. This fund is also designed to continue to give annually after the first 5 years so that it becomes a regular source of funding to improve the mental health of children and young people in our county in the future.

‘Since getting involved with CFSurrey, through the Mental Health Scale-Up Fund, you have taught me how to give well, so that it really makes an impact’ Founder Donor MHSU

We have funded the following:

Surrey Care Trust – in Nov 2022 we awarded a 5-year grant of £249,921 to support the Nurture through Nature programme utilising allotment and boat-based activities.

This work will particularly focus on providing support to:

  • Students (aged 14-16) struggling with poor mental health that leads to school avoidance;
  • Post-16 young people up to age 30 who are (who are at risk of becoming) NEET (not in education, employment or training);
  • Young carers;
  • Those engaged with Targeted Youth Support and in need of additional MH support;
  • Those with neurodiversity and disabilities that require further support needs.

This funding will support provision of nature-based activities, but crucially will allow SCT to properly structure their work into a programme of activities available in a wider geography to many more young people. Year 1 focuses on delivery in Reigate, subsequent years will roll-out activities to new sites in West Surrey. Target – additional 50 young people per annum supported. Total 2,500.

6 month report – Participant numbers exceeded; on average each participant made progress against 4-5 wellbeing measures. The biggest improvements from this course were made in beneficiaries’ friendships, relationship skills, and emotional wellbeing (feelings & behaviour), reflecting our focus on mental health and social skills/social confidence. Also 2 new sites identified – Woodland in Woking and animal therapy in Caterham – for development of activities in second year.

“We were all focussed on the same small part of the allotment doing the same job…

 [These] 3 lads struggle spending time closely with others (in different ways)

 so it was wonderful to see them all working

together as a team. When leaving Gateway

Mike & Joe left chatting.”

John Downing, Chief Executive, Surrey Care Trust said: “Everyone at Surrey Care Trust is delighted to receive the first award of the Community Foundation for Surrey’s Mental Health Scale Up Fund. This award will enable us to develop and expand our pioneering Nurture through Nature activities across Surrey and, most importantly, reach even more young people affected by poor mental health.  

BeMe – in Dec 2022 we awarded a 5-year grant of £263,746 to support work in schools with young people aged 11-15. The work involves activity and discussion-based courses designed to raise self-esteem & confidence, build resilience and lower anxiety. This funding supports the step-change required to scale up delivery into Leatherhead, Reigate, Epsom, Ashtead and Guildford. Will also support the charity to scale-up provision for boys from 1 in 5 courses  to 1 in 3 courses. Target 640 young people over 5 years, with split 66%/33% Girl/Boy by Year 5.

1-year Report – expanded course offering in Surrey from 39 courses in 2022 to 74 in 2023-  the target with scale-up funding was 61. The over-achievement was directly related to our confidence in the funding; without it we would not have been able to book courses with schools, who will always have more need for us to fill, if we have the funding and team in place. We worked with approx 350-370 beneficiaries. We invested in infrastructure costs of an office laptop and phone/contract, as well as training staff and setting up a better system of collecting impact data.

The Community Foundation is a delight to work with. Your guidance and advice in our original application led us to be much more focused in our plans for this year. This revised plan has meant we have delivered more than in full, and have a very clear execution plan for the future. Support from Funder Plus volunteers enabled us to develop a sound business plan, review our financial management and review our governance arrangements.

The visit from CF and funders to our office in June was greatly appreciated; again, your advice was helpful, and ensuring that we did a mid-year project check in against our objectives was invaluable.
The meeting in October at CF offices was also helpful, and has led us to a new project where we have been in dialogue with Surrey Care Trust and are about to pilot a visit for our beneficiaries from Reigate School to their Gateway project, as part of the final week of our courses. Needless to say, the Head at Reigate School is also delighted at this initiative.

Eikon in April 2023 we awarded a 5-year grant of £249,999 for development and roll-out of a preventative, early intervention support programme delivered in primary schools for children aged under 10 in order to help them build resilience and learn strategies to manage key relationships and issues in their lives.

Out of the 2,351 young people waiting for support in Surrey from the Surrey Wellbeing Partnership (13 partners) almost 50% are 10 and under.

Surrey schools are telling us that ever more young people of primary school age are struggling with poor mental health, reflecting the national increase. Our Secondary schools’ partners report that many of their young people who struggle had similar challenges during primary school.

This funding will support development of training programmes and materials for teachers and parents, which will be rolled out across Runnymede and Elmbridge in Year 1, extending to whole county by year 5. ‘Heads-Up’ Workshops will be delivered to support year 4, 5 & 6 pupils as a pilot programme to capture impact data. Head-Smart Ambassadors will be used to promote whole-school wellbeing and mental health across primary schools in the boroughs. Target 5,640 children benefit by end year 5.

1 Year report – March 2024 – good mapping of needs for primary-aged children, developing resources for teachers and parents programmes, pilot delivery of self-esteem and confidence workshops to year 4 and 5 children. Recruitment challenges delayed start – key issue across the sector.

We are extremely grateful for your support to this programme. Pam Holmes found the partner meeting very valuable to attend. Huge value always in facilitating the connections and discussions between organisations in the same space. We note appetite to do more partner wide events/ sharing and are keen to progress this a little bit later on this year when we have further progress on our delivery.