We are Spark. We want to ignite the conversation about mental health.
We want to help people suffering from mental illnesses be part of something bigger, to be part of a community. To so many of our members, the Spark support group is just like a family – celebrating with people for every achievement and every smile, but also when they need support in their deepest, darkest moments.
The group itself started off under the management of another foundation, who built the group up to over 900 members. Unfortunately, the foundation was unable to continue to manage the group for operational reasons.
Spark Support was formed almost within minutes – by two of the senior moderators from the group, who decided that there was far too much hard work, and wellbeing support coming from the group to let it disappear, it had to continue. The group is a lifeline where many turn to Spark when other national mental health services have let them down or are unavailable.
We strongly believe that the group brings people together that wouldn’t normally cross paths at all. We bring together people from all over the country, no matter of gender or age. We facilitate the conversations that take place – from the tip of Scotland to the bottom of Cornwall – we make people feel less isolated with their mental illnesses, which in itself can make you feel like you are the only person in the world suffering from it. This is our way of fighting back!
The entire group is community-led – every one of the moderators, to the management team, to the CEO has come from the group itself, and knows exactly how important this group is and have been trained with our bespoke training programme to a high level to be able to give support. We run frequent member surveys to ensure our members have a voice and are heard – our guidelines and the future of the group are totally formed by what our community thinks that we should do.
We need money to keep the group running as it should be. Every volunteer that we have completes an enhanced DBS check, which costs us every time. We train our moderators to a standard that we're proud of, we invest in them, we want to thank them, and we need to make sure that even things like our shift schedules keep ticking along.
We'd also love to really ramp up our advertising and let more people find out about us. We know that even with just under 1000 members, we’re not even scratching the surface. There are so many more people that we need to get the word out to that we exist.
Over 2018, we want to raise the profile of the group through awareness campaigns, web advertising, word of mouth, publishing blogs and interacting with as many NHS trusts as we can, to show that we’re around to assist them. It’s a really tough position that we’re in at the moment, as we’re a brand new charity – we’ve got very little funding coming in at the moment (because no-one knows we exist!), and ideally, over the next 12 months, we’re aiming to increase the membership by around 50%.
We know this is a tough challenge but we know our niche and want to be able to support those struggling, making their lives better and in turn, helping our larger community gain better wellbeing.