Mental health support group calls for more Sheffield businesses to open up doors to the community
A mental health support group has called for more Sheffield venues to open their doors to community organisations in the hope of tackling loneliness and social isolation.
Sheffield Mental Health Activism Group has launched a petition after it said it had found it ‘difficult' to find accessible community spaces in the city which it can use free of charge.
The petition is aimed at Sheffield Council, landlords, businesses and ‘anyone who believes in community and wants to create space for groups in the community’.
In a statement, the group said: “Issues we have faced as a group have been the cost of hiring a room to hold meetings in that is central and accessible to most people.
“We are also a group of people with lived experience so accessibility is very important as we are asking others who are struggling with or maintaining their mental health and those passionate about mental health to come and join us, so it needs to be easy to find and welcoming.
“We also don’t want to have to charge people for taking part, they are giving up their time to fight injustice and paying to be there may exclude people, we don't want to create more barriers.
“For some groups, including ours, we need private space, not just in a café for example, because sometimes sensitive topics and personal experiences are discussed in relation to issues we are campaigning around.”
The petition has been signed by 40 people so far and the group said it hoped it would lead to businesses and venues offering their facilities free of charge.
The statement added: “It's important not just for activism and campaigning but for building a sense of community and fighting isolation, which has a great impact on mental health.
“As youth clubs and libraries close where to people go where they can be, meet and learn together? Wonderful examples of somewhere doing this is Foodhall in Sheffield. I've taken part in a few events at Foodhall and you can see the joy it brings to people and the connections they make. People come on their own and leave with friends.
“Having a support network is a huge protective factor for someones wellbeing and it being free to be there means it's accessible to those who might need it the most.”
The statement added: “We always look forward to hearing from others that care about the cause, we have a manifesto of points that we feel passionate about and this is only the beginning.”
For more information or to sign the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-council-more-free-community-space-in-sheffield-1f9c6b21-c4df-4f18-aee8-d78f655221b1