Mind, the national mental health charity, submitted a bid for funding to the People’s Health Trust to develop and deliver a programme of work that builds the resilience of individuals within economically disadvantaged communities to minimise their risk of mental health problems. Five of the nine projects that make up this programme will work with men aged 45-60 who have been made unemployed in the past year or two. These projects are to be delivered by local Minds in Darlington, Hackney, Merthyr Tydfil, Newham, and York.
The basic design of these projects has been informed by Mind’s understanding of the importance of coping strategies and social support, both of which help people to build the resilience that enables them to maintain their well-being through adversity. In November 2012, The Young Foundation conducted local engagement and consultation across five areas in the UK to support the more detailed design of the resilience intervention.
The work of The Young Foundation sought to add to Mind’s basic design of programme of work, and address the following questions:
- What are the activities and opportunities which will encourage participation amongst the target group?
- What are the local assets,opportunities and existing provisions to ensure synergy and avoid duplication?
- What is the most suitable approach to promote the projects (including appropriate language, dissemination and promotional strategy)?
The local consultation and engagement consist of:
- Interviews and focus groups with local Mind staff and volunteers
- Interviews with other statutory and community based agencies (including work programme providers)
- Focus groups and interviews with older men who are out of work
A total of 31 men who are out of work participated in the local engagement. We anticipated that engaging out-of-work men would be a challenge, particularly given the timeframe of the project and included a voucher to incentivise participation. We produced a leaflet, which was disseminated (sent in the post and sent via email) to the local organisations.
The leaflets proved to have limited success in recruiting men to the focus group. Word of mouth through existing local organisations was much more effective in recruiting the target group. We approached local organisations (the gatekeepers), for instance Community Links in Newham, to help recruit.
The gatekeepers identified the difficulties of recruiting his target. Firstly, our leaflet invited out-of-work men to participate. This prompted some concerns in relation to welfare benefits and in particular to disclosing information which could impact on benefit entitlements, which deterred some people from participating. In addition, gatekeepers reported that some men did not feel sufficiently confident to participate in a conversation, specifically on the telephone, for twenty minutes. As a result the number of men who participated in the interviews was lower than we had anticipated. This provided useful learning for how the projects should go about their own recruitment (see ‘A resilience intervention for out of work men: general principles’).
The report is structured as follows:
- issues facing men in the target group
- local activities available to the target group
- gaps in provision
- general principles for a resilience intervention
- recommendations for a resilience intervention for older men