There is a complex connection between homelessness and mental health: poor mental health can be both the cause and consequence of homelessness.
To mark World Mental Health Day, we wanted to highlight the fantastic work that our Project Mentor and Wellbeing Coordinator does on a daily basis at the Archer Project. Rebecca works with our fulfilment participants to ensure they continue to be supported throughout their journeys from homelessness to a settled life.
Read on for Rebecca Russell's guest blog:
It can be easy to think that success is a matter of ticking the right boxes. Financial security and career progression are often the markers by which society deems us to be ‘doing well’. When we have these things, we can rest easy.
We are slowly coming to realise how poorly this paradigm serves us. Having the house, the job and the finances don’t seem to lead to overwhelming happiness, nor does it make ‘rest’ something we are more likely to do. In short, we are realising that the business of living encompasses more than a roof and a bank account.
Yet when it comes to supporting the homeless and most vulnerable in our society, we often revert to this ‘box ticking’ approach. In a fit of wishful thinking, we want to ‘solve’ the problem of homelessness, and accommodation, and work seems like a reasonable formula to use.
We forget that a human life is not a problem, and that it cannot be ‘solved’. It must be lived.
As the Archer Project’s Mentor and Wellbeing Coordinator, it is my job to help our participants live their lives, rather than solve them. I work with the participants who are housed, have a regular income, and need support to continue to thrive. Many may be on low incomes, have poor mental health, be isolated from their communities, or be managing addiction and recovery.
The majority of my job involves encouraging our mentees. Each person has numerous strengths, talents and passions, but may lack the knowledge or confidence to start using them; when you have only ever encountered barriers to your achievements, you are unfamiliar with the resources available to help you flourish. These resources could be community groups, sports teams, volunteering opportunities, or accessing healthcare, and I support our mentees to access all of these things.
I support them as they budget, get school places for their children, learn to cook and understand their mental health needs, and our weekly group activities, which range from arts and crafts to walks in the Peaks, help bolster our mentees’ self-esteem. As their areas of competence grow, so does their confidence.