Winter mental health support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and Refugee communities

Article date
12 January 2021

Seven voluntary and community organisations are to share a £20,000 NHS England grant aimed at supporting the mental health of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and Refugee communities (BAMER) over the winter.

Berkshire West CCG secured the funding and has worked closely with key partners to devise the best ways of allocating the money. Reading Voluntary Action, Involve (Wokingham) and Volunteer Centre West Berkshire have administered and will host the grant which they expect to achieve the following:

  • Raising awareness about psychological access and wellbeing within BAMER communities.
  • Improve more culturally sensitive support in accessing health and social care.
  • Increasing the scope of community support in a bid to prevent mental health crisis and surges of mental health needs.
  • Providing support to BAMER carers looking after a loved one.
  • Directing younger people from BAMER communities to the right support
These organisations below will receive the funding and the list below describes how they will spend the money:
  1. Reading Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality – to fund further outreach work, engagement and raise awareness.
  2. Autism Berkshire and Alafia – for advice and support sessions for parents and carers.
  3. Community United West Berkshire – to fund two online forums with small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) employers and their employees from BAMER communities on their mental well-being.
  4. Reading Community Learning Centre – to expand capacity to support BAMER women with extreme mental health needs.
  5. Sport in Mind – to provide tai chi sessions.
  6. Time to Talk, (a West Berkshire group) – to fund culturally sensitive engagement and counselling for young BAMER adults.
  7. Reading Refugee Support group – to support their work with people who are asylum seekers and in need of mental health support.
Niki Cartwright, Director of Joint Commissioning at Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

People’s mental health has taken a real hit during the pandemic. Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show almost one in five adults were experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic and one in eight developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms. Those who are struggling often find winter especially challenging with the dark days and poor weather which limit their opportunities to get outside and do many of the things we know can help improve our mental health and wellbeing.


Mental health services have been running throughout the pandemic but there has been a marked dip in referrals which is why the work of these seven groups is so important to help people who desperately need some support. I’m very pleased this funding has been earmarked for such a diverse range of really excellent projects.

There is a range of other support for people with mental health problems. This includes:
  • NHS talking therapies are a confidential service run by fully trained experts offering help with problems like stress, anxiety and depression. People can access the service by visiting their GP or referring themselves online or ringing 0300 365 2000.
  • Young people aged between 11 and 18 can visit a free, anonymous and confidential online counselling and emotional wellbeing support. And for those over 18 and in urgent need of help, they should ring NHS 111 who will direct them to the right support.
  • There is also online support on the NHS mental health and wellbeing website and people can also seek help by going online at NHS 111.
  • In emergency situations or if someone is in immediate danger, people must call 999 straight away.