From education to employment

Mental health Clubhouse puts members in the driving seat

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A ‘lifeline’ service which helps people with mental health issues get back to work and achieve their potential has received a £225,000 funding boost.

Islington-based Hillside Clubhouse helps its members boost their employability, skills and confidence and offers practical and emotional support.

Members take a hands-on role working with staff in the running of the centre, from setting its goals to day-to-day tasks such as working in its shop, administration duties, cleaning and maintenance.

The work, which supports people in Islington and neighbouring boroughs, is being funded with a five-year grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, Dhruv Patel, said:

“The great thing about Hillside Clubhouse is they take a holistic approach which addresses not just employment issues but the other factors which may be preventing people from living the kind of life they want to live.

“Involving members in the running of the organisation is what makes the Clubhouse really unique, offering people invaluable work experience, life skills and social connections in a safe, supportive environment.”

Hillside Clubhouse can trace its roots back to 1990 and a decade ago moved to a new, state-of-the-art building just off the Caledonian Road, including a shop which, when Covid rules allow, serves drinks and snacks to the public and provides employment for members.

Face to face work continued during much of lockdown but even when that has not been possible the charity is ensuring members stay connected remotely, including via a WhatsApp group, Zoom sessions and phone calls.

Hillside Clubhouse Executive Director Graeme Jones said:

“Our members tell us coming to the Clubhouse is an absolute lifeline for them. Sometimes the biggest challenge for us is helping people to believe in themselves and working with us boosts their confidence and enables them to achieve things they never thought they would achieve.

“At the Clubhouse we’re all colleagues together and everybody brings something –

that’s what makes people flourish. We see members having a lot happier and more active lives and feeling more connected with their local communities as a result.”

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

Case study: ‘It’s opened up a whole new world that I didn’t know existed’

Donna, from Islington, has been attending the Clubhouse for two years.

She said: “When I was introduced to Hillside I was struggling with my finances and suffered with anxiety, depression and chronic back pain. Unable to work, I was very down, had lost all confidence in myself and my abilities and couldn’t see a way forward.

“I started volunteering at the Clubhouse doing admin. It was scary at first but the staff helped me with things like my health, keeping appointments and Universal Credit, which was a huge weight off my shoulders.

“I joined some courses on confidence building and interview skills, and soon, through Hillside, a volunteer place became available at a local community centre. I’ve been volunteering as a teaching assistant for six months and have recently been employed as a craft tutor.

“My confidence has soared and I can honestly say this is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. It’s opened up a whole new world that I didn’t know existed. My mental and general health has improved so much and I have a strong support network around me, thanks to Hillside. I can’t thank them enough for all their help and support.”


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