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Ways to Wellbeing Redcar and Cleveland - phase 1

A DfE Community Learning | Mental Health Research site 2015-18 

This is the dedicated page for Redcar Adult Learning’s community learning mental health research site in Redcar and Cleveland, where we share our journey and the lessons we learned as our project developed. 

Why was this research needed in Redcar?

We completed background research into data sets and also local market intelligence for the whole of Redcar and Cleveland and found the following:

  • At any one time it is estimated that 18,000 people in Redcar and Cleveland are suffering from a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression.  Redcar and Cleveland has significantly more adults with depression than England (15.1% and 11.7%, respectively) (NEPHO, 2013).
  • Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) found that 'some communities in Redcar and Cleveland are poorly served by mental health support services'. They also found that 'there is low awareness and poor uptake of mental health promotion services'.
  • According to Projecting Older People Population Information (POPPI) website, forecasts for people age 65+ predicted to have depression in Redcar and Cleveland show a 14% increase from 2012 to 2020.

Pilot phase - what did we do?

In the beginning we planned to offer 3 different courses: 'Healthy Me Boot Camp', 'Positive Paws' and 'Mobile Mind Space'. Each course was planned to run for 3 hours per week for 5 weeks.  

What were courses like?

Healthy Me Boot Camp

This course was designed to be a mixture of physical activity for half of the time and the other half was designed to improve cookery skills focused on mood foods. From discussion with Mind to look at their delivery, they highlighted that although their current delivery is a clear 50/50 split in gender, the local area has a high proportion of middle aged men with depression. This provision was aimed at this demographic although it was inclusive to enable all eligible learners to attend.

Why this type of course?

"As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease."  

"Exercise leads to the release of endorphins – feel-good chemicals in the brain that help us to relax and to feel happy. Exercise is particularly important for people with depression as it also gives structure and purpose to the day."

(Mental Health Foundation).

How did this course develop through lessons learned?

We changed the name to ‘Healthy Me’ as learner feedback showed the boot camp element in the title made people think that it was going to be extensive physical exercise rather than relaxing exercise. This was the main reason for the change in name.  

Positive Paws

This course was designed to be a small animal care course, aimed at those aged 65+ with depression issues. The provision was aimed at this demographic although it was inclusive to enable all eligible learners to attend. The course included how to look after a small animal in addition to covering the health benefits of keeping or volunteering with animals.

Studies by the Mental Health Foundation found that volunteering or owning a small animal can aid recovery due to Increasing exercise, providing companionship, helping meet new people, adding structure and routine to the day and providing sensory stress relief.

How did this course developed through lessons learned?

We only ran this course in the first section of the pilot in year 1. We decided to stop running the course for a number of different reasons:

  • The cost of the course was huge compared with the results it was having

  • We had felt that ‘facing fears’ could really help people in overcoming barriers – the thinking behind this was if you concurred your fear of spiders…..you could then maybe feel confident enough to do other things you felt you couldn’t do. In reality, the scoring demonstrated that this wasn’t always the case.

Mobile Mind Space

This course was designed as an art related course focused around a collective art project. It was based around the decoration of a 'Mobile Mind Space' campervan with an artist in residence taking the lead. This provision was aimed at 19-24 year old learners, although it was open to all eligible learners.

How did this course develop through lessons learned?

In reality we ended up running these with a slight variation on their theme with the art course taking a more relaxed 'Colour Your Life' tone which was actually based around Zen colouring.

Learner Case Studies

Three of our learners allowed us to turn their stories into case studies, telling us why they got involved in the project and the impact on them as a result of joining a community learning course.

A photograph of Stephen's art work showing the sea and the shore

Stephen was made redundant from his job in Engineering and suffered a family bereavement. With encouragement from the charity MIND,  Stephen joined a "Colour your life" art class. Although initially hesitant in taking the class, Stephen found it gave him a new way to express himself and confidence to try other courses too as you can read in the full case study below.



Angela was living alone and finding thatA woman doing chair excercise
she was spending more and more time by herself in her house. She'd lost the confidence to go out and socialise and didn't was put off joining exercise classes because she didn't think she'd cope. The marketing leaflet for the "Healthy me" course put her at ease, she realised that it would be a small group and everyone was likely to be in a similar position.  Angela said was welcomed into the group and felt that the tutors did not have any “airs or graces”. Read Angela's full story in her case study below.



June has mobility problems and was very anxious aboutA photograph of June holding a snake
meeting new people. Her interest in animals
attracted her to the "Positive Paws" course. A friend
encouraged her attend and even volunteered to come
with her. June built her self-confidence by attending
and handling creatures that she was afraid of, like the
snake she is holding in this photograph.
Read June's full story below.



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