timetochangeA range of innovative projects designed to counter mental health stigma in communities around the country have received more than £500,000 funding from anti-stigma programme Time to Change.

A comedy extravaganza, an African and Caribbean church partnerships in Leeds, a pop-up kitchen table set at Manchester Pride, and a portable tree that will tour country shows are just some of the projects to receive backing from the campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief.

Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, said: "What works to challenge stigma in one community may not work in the same way in another, so through the grants fund we are putting the power to make change happen into the hands of the experts - the people who know their communities the best.

"All of the projects that have received funding will see people with lived experience of mental health problems taking a lead role and being at the forefront in challenging mental health stigma and discrimination in England."

Following on from the first grant fund last year, this second round of grants will see 13 more creative projects being rolled out by local communities.

All the projects will work with a range of communities including young people, black and minority ethnic and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and groups in rural areas. They will have direct contact with the public to start the kind of conversations that can transform attitudes. Evidence suggests that this kind of social contact is one of the most effective ways of breaking down stigma and discrimination.

Some of the new projects include:
• 'Laughing for a Change' - run by Women and Theatre in partnership with Birmingham LGBT Trust, Black Country Touring and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust. Participants in the project will attend training to develop skills and confidence in stand-up comedy. The participants, along with six professional comedians with experience of mental health problems, will share their own experiences with the public, using comedy to start conversations about mental health. After the training they will all put their new skills to the test at community comedy nights and open-mic sessions. The project will culminate in a national 'Laughing for a Change' tour.
• 'New View Project' - run by Touchstone in partnership with Roscoe Methodist Church, Zimbabwean Fellowship and Leeds Mind. The Leeds-based project will change attitudes towards African and Caribbean people with mental health problems by working in partnership with black majority churches. People from African and Caribbean communities who have experienced mental health problems will be supported to gain the confidence, information and support they need to talk openly about their experiences. Volunteers will lead facilitated one-to-one conversations with members of their churches and communities to challenge myths and preconceptions around the issue. In addition, artists with experience of mental health problems will work with volunteers and congregations to create pieces of art that will challenge stigma, which will be displayed in churches to prompt more open conversations about mental health.
• 'Can you hear me?' - run by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation in partnership with Creative Curve. Set around an installation of participant-designed kitchen tables, the exhibition will be showcased at Manchester Pride and tell the stories of a diverse range of women with mental health problems, through a series of testimonials and audio work. Visitors will sit at the kitchen tables and talk, opening up communication between those with and without experience of mental health problems.
• 'Growing Voices' - run by Carlisle Eden Mind in partnership with Eden Arts. Thirty people with experience of mental health problems will work alongside local artists and craftsmen to create a large movable tree-themed shelter. The tree will then visit some 35 country shows, festivals and other outdoor gatherings, and act as a canopy under which volunteers can chat to the public.

The fund is now open for the third round of applications and the deadline for entries is April 30. These grants will be awarded in July and there will be one further round of funding.

For information about the grants and for a full list of the projects awarded funding in round two visit www.time-to-change.org.uk/grant