More and more mission pioneers in the UK are using their unique training, creativity and skills to make a positive impact among people facing mental health challenges.
At least four of our former pioneer mission students make a difference in this way.
Craft beer connections
A new initiative called Candid was launched over Easter in Stafford to help combat loneliness and isolation in the community, which can be big factors affecting mental health. Candid is a community driven space consisting of a taproom, bottleshop, cafe and creative work area situated in Woodings Yard.
It’s the brainchild of Mark and Jess Bamping. Mark is a connoisseur of independent craft beers; he brought the idea for Candid to a CMS Make Good week for mission entrepreneurs. Make Good helps bring this kind of creative notion to life. Mark and Jess hope to see Candid become a thriving community hub where people can gather and develop meaningful relationships over a locally brewed craft beer and other shared interests.
A new book featuring stories from people who have faced especially tough life circumstances will include a chapter from a recent graduate of CMS’s Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course in Oxford. Natalie Roberts is one of 11 contributors to Courage: Stories of Darkness to Light by author Samantha Houghton. The hope is that this book, all proceeds of which will be donated to The Samaritans, will help people at mental health crisis points in their lives.
Natalie (who has personally contended with Cassandra Syndrome and whose husband has been diagnosed with Asperger’s) has set up a coaching business to assist others who may be facing mental health challenges related to having family members on the autism spectrum. Natalie’s website describes her as "The Asperger’s Relationship Coach". In addition to her pioneer mission training, she is also an accredited Master Coach and qualified Mental Health First Aider.
Justice over judgement
Mental Health patients who have been convicted of crimes are often assumed to be incapable of taking part in restorative justice practices – a system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the local community.
Finlay Wood, another CMS pioneer course alumnus, is working for the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, providing restorative justice interventions for people convicted of crimes on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Based in Bethlem Royal Hospital, the oldest institution that exists for the treatment of mentally ill people, Fin is pioneering with a handful of others in offender/victim mediation, which is currently only offered in prisons.
Fin started by leading a restorative justice awareness course in the hospital. He then secured funding to pilot four more courses and evaluate the impact on 35 patients. The positive impact on reducing the number of assaults on staff, for example, led to him working with the lead psychologist and a team of volunteers in forensic mental health.
Commenting on the work of these pioneer students, Jonny Baker, who leads the CMS national network of pioneer mission training, said he sees a definite connection between mission and mental health awareness: “As society becomes more aware of mental health challenges, there is an increasing need for more Christians to get involved in reducing stigma and supporting people who struggle – and I’m so glad to see CMS mission pioneers using their training at the forefront of this vital area.”