Strides! is a user-led organisation based in Leicester. It consists of people who have suffered, are suffering, or are recovering from mental health problems.
It aims to encourage members to build social confidence, develop capacity, work as a group and to undertake independent decisions. It promotes social inclusion and participation in the wider community and confronts stigma, challenging the negative perceptions of mental health.
It does this by running a programme of educational, social, and recreational activities all of which are planned and carried out by members, such as weekly on-site meetings, talks, or quizzes or off-site visits to museums, leisure centres, cinemas and restaurants.
Funding from Carlton Hayes has enabled Strides! to organise two of their most popular and important programmes: residential experiences in which its members benefit from a focus on social, communication and life skills, and their Confidence Building programme in which members meet each week to talk about their experiences.
Set up in 1997, Strides! received its first source of financial support from the Carlton Hayes Mental Health Charity. This support was instrumental in enabling the group to take its first step forward towards becoming established as a company and later as a charity. Since then, Carlton Hayes has continued to regularly support Strides! in its efforts to help individuals who have experienced or are experiencing mental health problems.
The funding received from Carlton Hayes has made it possible for Strides! to organise one of its most popular and effective activities, the residential programme. This programme enables group members to live, work and talk together for a few days in a rural setting, well away from their regular and often isolated lives in Leicester.
Activities focus on social and communication skills and life skills such as planning, budgeting, cooking and cleaning. Individual and group discussion is opened up with an emphasis on mutual help and support.
A variety of indoor and outdoor actives are also carried out according to the interests and capabilities of members.
Carlton Hayes has also granted funds to support the Strides! Confidence Building programme. The programme consists of two small groups meeting once a week to talk. Each group consists of around eight participants and members can join at any time and take part when and as they feel it is important and useful to them. Often forming as a gateway to bigger group activity sessions, some people join the Confidence Building programme for short periods of time and others are in regular attendance for several years.
These groups often allow many participants to emerge from isolation, to socialise and and participate more fully within Strides! and the wider world. Funding from Carlton Hayes have been essential for the continuation of these groups and the positive impact they have on members’ mental health.