FaithAction Launches Friendly Places Pledge


On 4th March, FaithAction held a national event to celebrate the role of faith groups as communities that support and welcome those who are troubled with their mental health, and to encourage further practical steps to provide support and tackle mental health stigma and discrimination through the Friendly Places Pledge.

Mental health problems are common and will affect 1 in 4 people in the UK during their lifetime. Faith groups and faith-based organisations have the capacity to provide support and acceptance for those struggling with mental health problems within their communities.

Speakers at the event, co-hosted by Livability and the Mental Health Providers Forum, included Baroness Jolly, a video message of support from Norman Lamb MP and Paul Farmer CEO of Mind. Other noted speakers highlighted work that is taking place in various faith communities across the country, including: Daniel Singleton, National Executive Director of FaithAction, Raheel Mohammed, Director of Maslaha, Will van der Hart, a Founding Director of Mind and Soul, and Katharine Welby, Community Mission Coordinator, Livability.

Norman Lamb MP said:

“…We should be encouraging all faith communities to play their part in developing individual and collective understanding of mental health; building mental health friendly communities that are responsive to the needs of individuals, offering kindness care and support to those most in need, and challenging the stigma so often associated with mental ill health. Its events like today which help us all take a step in the right direction. […]I would urge all of you to sign up to the Friendly Places Pledge today.”

Baroness Jolly said:

“…I belong to a faith group and I understand the value of community support that can be extended to someone with a mental health condition, and I’ve also understood the value of a faith in offering comfort to that person.

Events like today’s launch of FaithAction’s Friendly Places Initiative […]allow us to shine a light on these issues and to stand shoulder to shoulder with men and women in need. We shouldn’t underestimate the often profound and significant role that faith groups can play in supporting people with mental health conditions within congregations and in the wider community.”

Paul Farmer said:

“If we’re going to change the way that we, as a society, think about mental health, we’re going to have to embrace the whole of civil society. Networks of faith communities can play a huge role in having conversations about mental health.

I’d like to give you my personal support and congratulations on the pledge. I was really impressed with the intention, aspiration and ambition for what it’s all about. This is about recognising that as communities we’ve all got a role to play, and there are things that many of us are already doing to welcome people into our faith communities who are experiencing mental health problems.”

During the event, Daniel Singleton, National Executive Director of FaithAction, launched the Friendly Places Pledge, highlighting how faith groups can take action to make their place of worship more welcoming, understanding and supportive of those who are troubled with their mental health.

“Through the pledge, we recognise that those suffering with their mental health should not be placed on the margins of the community. We recognise the small, intentional things that make a big difference to those struggling with mental health who are a part of your community and encourage practical steps towards providing support and tackling mental health stigma and discrimination.”

FaithAction aims to get 100 faith groups signed up by October 10th, Mental Health Day 2014.

The pledge can be downloaded and signed through the Friendly Places website: www.faithaction.net/friendlyplaces