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Telford and Wrekin and the CLMH research experience

 A DfE Community Learning | Mental Health Research site (2015/17) 

Our CLMH offer

Here's how we marketed the research offer: 

"Feeling low, stressed, anxious or worried?

Try a FREE Short course designed to promote your wellbeing.

Keep learning... for a balanced mind and body.

Screenshot of the Telford and Wrekin CLMH project leaflet for January 2017Who are these courses for?

If you feel a little low, anxious, stressed, frustrated or have trouble sleeping? Are you going through a recent life change and finding it difficult to cope?

The courses are designed to help you to understand and manage your daily life, learn techniques to cope with your feelings, build your confidence and self-esteem. But overall, it will help you meet new friends and feel positive about everyday life!

Our courses are FREE to anyone 19 or over, and you will be taking part in a National Community Learning Research Programme in the UK to help promote wellbeing in your community. These Wellbeing courses are available in local venues across Telford and Wrekin for 2.5 hours per week over 6 weeks.

It can be difficult to make the first step into something new so, before you start, you will talk to our learning friendly mentor who will give you more information and help you to find a course to suit you.

How do I join?

It’s easy! Call 01952 382888 and speak to a mentor about Wellbeing Courses."

Brief history and demography

Telford and Wrekin is home to some 169,400 people living in 73,400 households (Jun 2016) of which an estimated prevalence of 20,925 adults are reported to have mental health disorders and 30,609 reporting of long-term heath problem or disability. Telford & Wrekin is a place of socio-economic contrasts with parts of the borough amongst the most deprived nationally - comparable with inner cities – and areas amongst the least deprived nationally.

The town was named after civil engineer Thomas Telford, who engineered many road and rail projects in Shropshire, but more famously it is recognised for the Iron Bridge that crosses the River Severn and Ironbridge Gorge and M54 motorway was completed in 1983, improving the town's road links with the West Midlands conurbation.

The Research

From April 2015 to July 2017, Telford and Wrekin Adult Learning have been part of a national research project to provide adults aged 19 and over, who are suffering from mild to moderate mental health problems, and were asked to develop and design an exciting range of courses that will support and improve their health and wellbeing. Supporting us in the project, we worked with a range of local partners, including Job Centre Plus, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Service (IAPT), TCAT and Workers Education Association (WEA) and MacBrac.

In July 2017, Telford and Wrekin Council recognised mental health awareness as an important part of wellbeing and the new way of life - and has signed the Time to Change pledge, the growing social movement run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness which supports people to open up to mental health problems. By signing, the Council is committing to change the way we all think and act about mental health in the workplace.

Our Journey

In September 2016, for the second phase of the Mental Health Project and the providers were categorised into groups – Telford and Wrekin were placed in Group A category – we focused on providing courses targeted for mild to moderate mental health learners only. We faced the new challenge of designing the right curriculum courses to suit the project requirements and also train our tutors, learning mentors and support staff to deliver the project successfully.

The courses involved 15 hours of learning over five to six weeks. The Wellbeing team worked together with tutors and learning mentors to ensure every course was adapted to the suit the type of learners on the course, ie. Autism, parents, other languages. A learning mentor worked alongside the tutor in every course, and provided Initial Advice and Guidance and also completed the Smart Surveys at the beginning of the session. We delivered courses at community venues, some schools and within work programme organisations across Telford and Wrekin.

We also had some concerns about how to promote the marketing for these courses because we were required to specify in our course titles and course descriptions and include the words - managing stress and anxiety. We thought this may discourage learners to join, of perhaps identifying themselves with mental health, but surprisingly it had helped to attract the right kind of learners and helped in the recruitment, especially when we worked in partnership with work programme organisations and schools.

As a result from our own research, from focus groups and consulting with partners, tutors and learning mentors, we set up and developed the course programme for Learning for Wellbeing. 

  • Managing Stress with Positive Vibes

  • Managing Stress – Build Self Esteem

  • Understanding Anger

  • Food and Moods

  • Improve your Mood with Crafts

  • Dance to Enhance Moods

  • Sing the Blues Away

Success Stories

Reflections and quotes from learners on the courses: 

  • I am not alone

  • Good to be around a group where I can have a laugh

  • In fact, I’ve identified that I am managing better than I thought.

  • Thank you for making me see! You made me realise my mother is my friend not my enemy.

  • A learner that had started at the beginning of the course, seen to arrive in a wheelchair – from an injury from an accident - felt she wanted to try and stand whilst in her singing group, and by the end of the course, she managed to stand most of the time whist she sang!

  • A learner who smoked up to 20 – 30 cigarettes, along with support from another quit smoking programme, persevered with us and by the end of course had reduced her smoking to 10 and began to change her life habits and claimed it has given her more energy to do this now!
  • A learner who suffered from anxiety was now able to leave the house because she had a reason, and attended every session of the course.

Tutors' and Learning Mentors' Reflections 

  • The groups gelled so well by the end of the course

  • Several individuals found comfort in supporting and helping others in the group

  • I found I was helping them, help themselves and giving them time to reflect of their own experiences was more beneficial.

Tutors used a combinations of activities and resources to use a hands-on approach to the delivery of these courses – Music to set the moods and relax with softer sounds, Journals for reflection, crafty ideas to express emotions, slow sewing and clay work to keep hands busy...

We have some photos and videos to showcase the courses we offered and encourage you to join the courses to improve your own wellbeing.

To hear more from people who have participated in this learning, watch the video(s) below.


To conclude

A quote from a learner:

"I didn't think this would be for me as the first lesson can be a little weird with the breathing and chanting. However, the last 5 weeks have taught me loads about myself and how to control my anxiety. The tutor is amazing! There should be more things like this to help people with mental health and not a pack of pills!"

A learner who participated in a Yoga for Wellbeing course.

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