Vanclaron CIC – supporting BAME communities with mental health through the pandemic

Vanclaron CIC provides a range of health and wellbeing training, consultancy and advice to local refugees, asylum seekers and BAME communities, with a focus on mental health, chronic disease education and women’s health awareness.

Founder and CEO, Dr Edith Iheama, explains:
“Our approach is to work with individuals and communities to achieve better health and wellbeing. We empower individuals and communities to make positive choices about their lifestyles to improve mental and physical health and self-esteem.

“Our Community Health Awareness Training Service (CHATS) is borne out of my lived immigration experience and its impact on my physical and mental wellbeing, and the lack of expert, culturally competent and faith sensitive services for BAME and migrant communities.”

According to the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Nottingham, carried out to identify unmet mental health needs and service gaps, BAME communities have an increased risk of mental health problems, with many (especially refugees and asylum seekers) lacking access to most of the protective factors for mental health, such as early identification of mental health problems and signposting to targeted services.

The Renewal Trust recently supported Vanclaron CIC with a Community Grant of £500. The grant helped Vanclaron to support people with their mental health during the pandemic.

Edith explains:
We received our Community Grant on 1 May 2020, which was well into the period where the pandemic had caused significant impact on everyone. It is well published that BAME communities including refugees and asylum seekers are more vulnerable to the impact of Covid-19 and this has only made the mental health position even worse.

Although we were not able to provide face to face mental health first aid workshops as planned, we adapted as quickly as we could to provide 1.2.1 telephone support. Whilst this temporarily reduced the numbers we can support, the impact of what we have been able to deliver has been hugely positive.

It is important to remember that it is not just the individuals we support who benefit but their family and potentially close friends also. We estimate that for every one client directly impacted a further 3-4 people benefit also.”

Here are some of the comments shared by the people who Vanclaron have supported…

“I really like the mental health support and my councillor Edith, she was very helpful and understanding. She always motivated me to take care of myself and my mental health. I learned a lot from her.”

“Something I really appreciate about Edith – she always encouraged me to keep a journal about what comes into my mind and make a plan for each day. She always motivated me to do yoga, exercise and go for walks to enjoy the greenery. I always listened to her and also encouraged my friends to do so. I always feel great when I have completed them. Edith’s advice is so helpful!”

The mental health support helped me to manage my stress during lockdown and helped me to know what triggers it. I felt loved and cared for even though I hadn’t met Edith (face to face) before. Edith is really a blessing to me and I appreciate all her good listening.”

“The support helped me to have a thanks giving heart and motivated me to do different activities, write a diary to encourage myself, talk to other people, and keep smiling.”

Find out more about Vanclaron CIC

Find out more about our Community Grants