Shop workers, hairdressers and bar staff key to tackling loneliness and mental health in pilot scheme launched in York

Shop workers, hairdressers and bar staff across North Yorkshire will be part of a new scheme aimed at tackling isolation, loneliness and mental health following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pilot - named Community Conversations - will be launched in the Groves and Clifton areas of York and will involve staff at numerous businesses and organisations having specialist free training to help them spot the signs that someone may be at risk of mental health and as a result engage with them and signpost them to help and support.

The scheme has been put together by North Yorkshire Police; the City of York Council Public Health; Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust,; The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group; York St John University; Yorkshire Ambulance Service; York Explore Libraries and the Communi-tea mental health charity.

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It aims to benefit both communities by improving the wellbeing of people and help local businesses by developing their employees’ skills.

Shop workers, waiters and bar staff across North Yorkshire will be part of a new scheme aimed at tackling isolation, loneliness and mental health following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Natasha Almond, Citizens in Policing manager at North Yorkshire Police, said: “We know that many of the shops and local organisations are the fabric of their communities, and have been key in supporting people throughout the pandemic. And research also shows that convenience stores, coffee shops and pubs have the most impact when it comes to reducing isolation.

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“In many cases, a visit to the shops or library could be the only contact someone has with another person and we know that simply talking to a friendly face can help improve wellbeing. This scheme takes that conversation a step further.”

The project is part of the Northern Quarter Community Mental Health Project and the wider York Mental Health Partnership.

"This excellent initiative offers community members such as shopkeepers or hairdressers or officers training to help them have conversations which count with people who may be experiencing difficult emotion. It is very much in keeping with our #FeelRealYork campaign and our work to normalise not being OK, and it helps support this city of neighbourly and caring people.”

The training will be delivered by Public Health England the Communi-tea mental health charity based in Selby and will take place in April and May.

For more information on the scheme, click here.