Parklea Branching Out - Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund

Parklea Branching Out - Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund

"We value our people, seeing and enabling what people CAN do, appreciating people for who they are and their unique talents"

CVS Inverclyde administered the first phase of the Scottish Government’s Communities and Mental Health Fund in Inverclyde. In total, over £338,000 has been awarded to 20 organisations in Inverclyde who will use the money to fund projects to support mental health and wellbeing in our communities.

Parklea Branching Out (PBO) is a horticultural program providing a variety of training, work experience, supported employment, and recreational and social facilities for a variety of clients, including adults and children with learning and/or physical disabilities, those with poor mental health, school leavers, young and long-term unemployed, elderly groups, and community groups. 

We chatted to manager Sharon Gemmell about Parklea's funding and the impact it will have.

How important is this funding for your work?

We are delighted to have received this funding that will enable Parklea Branching Out to deliver an inclusive programme of community based activities that will help improve the lives of our learning disability (LD) community, many of whom have become socially isolated due to their regular activities and structure being removed due to covid.

Can you tell us briefly what you will use the funding for?

We are going to role out a programme of inclusive community based activities, including;  Community Dance Classes, accessible multi-sports sessions and IT/Digital Inclusion workshops.  There will also be lots of new opportunities for individuals to join our therapeutic horticulture workshops and take part in community growing at PBO’s new and enhanced accessible growing spaces.  Therapeutic art and creative sessions, will also be on offer throughout the year, as well as PBOs weekly health walks and All Ability Cycling sessions.

What impact do you think the fund will make for your work and the wider community?

Funding will support the capacity of the organisation and will enable us to introduce new community-based support and advice that will have an impact on lives of people with an LD and ASN, their families and the wider community.  Through new and enhanced local provision individuals will be better connected with their community and have a sense of purpose - we will help inspire and build skills, give people choices and help with their independence that will improve confidence and emotional wellbeing.  Individuals will be less isolated, with improved their social skills; experience a healthier lifestyle and have increasing access to volunteering and supported employment opportunities.

In your opinion, how has the pandemic impacted our mental health and the support services helping people

The pandemic as we know and hear about everyday has had significant impact on our lives and services.  We are well aware of this through the services we provide at PBO – we listen to our service users, their families and carers and our community of volunteers, all of whom have different lived experiences.  For a lot of our vulnerable clients with an LD and ASN and their families the impact has been at times more challenging with the lack and for some no support at all, with reliance and added pressure put on families.

We are hopefully starting to see normal life return and we are delighted to be able to support and enhance community life through the Wellbeing Fund for our clients, their families and our local community.

In your opinion, how important is the third sector in supporting mental health in our communities?

Inverclyde has a diverse and thriving third sector, that has came together during the pandemic to support our people and communities.  With continued partnership working and local authority support we can do more and help our communities and those most in need of our services.  At PBO we are committed to developing and enhancing opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities and additional support needs, as well as enhancing local community life through our work.  We value our people, seeing and enabling what people CAN do, appreciating people for who they are and their unique talents. 

Find out more about Parklea Branching Out on their website.


Chris Park

Publish Date:

Apr 6, 2022