The Community Development Service (CDS) aims to improve the quality and equity of mental health access, experiences and outcomes for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in Leeds. To achieve this, the CDS team continued to actively engage and work co-productively with various statutory, third sector and community and faith-based partners.
In 2014–15, our service was focused on delivering six main areas of priorities, some of which are described below:

  • Mental Health awareness and anti-stigma work with Black African and African Caribbean Communities (New View Project), which was delivered in partnership with National Time to Change and Black Majority Churches across Leeds. The project involved 12 volunteers with lived experience of mental health. The project volunteers engaged and promoted positive mental health with 1,682 people. A special ‘Worship Pack’ was co-produced with churches to help sustain the conversation and promote positive mental health.
  • Project exploring self-harm in Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities– we engaged with BME communities to raise awareness of self-harm and the range of support and services available to them. We also gathered community intelligence on met and unmet needs as well as barriers for BME people with regard to self-harm. The project also produced a report outlining the causes and responses to self-harm in BME communities.
  • Promote and embed peer support in health and wellbeing provisions for BME communities. We researched and produced a guide to peer support that emphasised its relevance as a tool to aid recovery in mental health. We also delivered a workshop at the annual peer support conference organised by Leeds Mind to highlight good practice in peer support work with BME communities.
  • Refugees and asylum seekers mental health– we continued to facilitate the multi-agency Refugee and Asylum Seekers Mental Health network. The network meet to share information and build working relationships, identify gaps, barriers and priorities for improving mental health services. We also continued to deliver the ‘Migrant Access Project’ in partnership with Leeds City Council. We also supported key primary mental health service providers to collate robust data for the first time about refugees and asylum seekers using their services.
  • Personalisation of health and social care– the main aim of the project was to ensure BME communities are aware of new developments that enable them to have greater access to and choice and control over services they receive. We engaged with various stakeholders, including BME mental health service users and carers to increase awareness and uptake of Personal Budget/Self Directed Support (SDS). We produced an easy-to-follow flow chart to clarify SDS processes and systems in Leeds. We also researched and produced a report that analysed data on uptake of personal budget/SDS among BME communities in Leeds.

Service partner testimonial

Leeds City Council has worked in partnership with Touchstone’s Community Development Service (CDS) since the start of the Migrant Access Project in 2005. MAP trains volunteer community leaders with the skills and knowledge to help newer migrants adjust quickly to life in Leeds.
MAP supports these volunteers to cascade accurate information about pathways into public services to their communities, in their own languages, reducing costs for the city. CDS provide expertise, knowledge and skills which complement my role at Leeds City Council in meeting the project’s objectives. Touchstone’s Community Development Service has experience in mental health and working with Black and Minority Ethic communities, both essential to the success of the project.
As migration and resettlement has an impact on mental well-being for new communities, we recognised that mental health is the key underpinning issue for migrant communities.
CDS understands both community and service perspectives, helping to bridge the gaps of language, culture and understanding between service providers and communities.
Pria Bhabra, commissioning officer (Migrant Access) – Migration Partnership, Leeds Adult Social Care

Community partner testimonial

I first came into contact with the Touchstone’s Community Development Service (CDS) at Cromwell Mount whilst looking for a venue to support my local community. Over a period of 12 months I kept popping in for information regarding different venues in the area to host our meetings. CDS introduced me to some local council buildings and offices. I had some conversations with CDS about funding, and about people who can help, e.g. Voluntary Action Leeds, with setting up a small charity and how to sustain our group.
In March 2015 we received funding from the Big Lottery Fund for a year. We called our group Brighter Days Ahead, with the aim to assist refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers and their dependants.
Our group is in its tenth week. We have regular attendees. Topics we have covered include mental health awareness, diabetes, change of lifestyle, being more active. Now we want to look at health management, the Immigration Act, drugs and alcohol, tobacco, good citizenship, single parents.
I still have one-to-one discussions with CDS about capacity building. The contact with CDS has opened up lots of possibilities, for example through signposting, and has opened my eyes and my mind and helped me to understand funding.
Fungai Bright Tekeshe, Albright Leeds