Mental Health Marketplace event showcases wealth of support on offer from third sector in Leeds

Leeds Kirkgate Market was a hive of activity on the topic of mental health on Thursday 16 May as the city’s charity sector came together to showcase the wealth of help on offer to those in need.

Over 50 voluntary organisations gathered at the city centre venue to host stalls and activities to raise awareness of their services and how they can support the mental health and wellbeing of people and communities in Leeds.

The ‘Mental Health Marketplace Event’ was organised by Forum Central – a network for the city’s third sector organisations – to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13 to 19), and saw over 150 visitors and shoppers stop by to learn more.

Among those taking part was Forward Leeds, the city-wide service which provides drug and alcohol support to adults, young people and families.

Hannah Trevisani, Forward Leeds team manager, said:

“This event was really important to us as it was a great opportunity to highlight the connection between poor mental health and alcohol and drugs. Many people turn to substances to cope with poor mental health and using alcohol and/or drugs can also affect people’s mental wellbeing. Often it’s tough to see if substance use is a cause of a symptom of a person’s poor mental health. Too often it’s both at the same time.

“It was great to speak to so many people who have experienced issues, who are still experiencing issues, or who have family or friends experiencing issues.

“Providing information and advice at events like this can help people feel they are not alone, not unusual and let them know there is support out there if they need it.

“We’d love to be part of more regular events like this, as of course mental health is not just an issue for people one week a year.”

Another organisation at the event was GamCare, which supports anyone affected by gambling harms.

George Richardson, GamCare’s outreach and engagement practitioner, said:

“Beyond the fantastic conversations I had with attendees, it was great to see so many services under one roof, all working towards a common goal.
“It’s important to let people know about the brilliant support Leeds has to offer.”

Dr Stewart Manning, chairman of Yorkshire Cancer Community, a support network for people affected by cancer, was also at the event to raise awareness of its services including its ‘Cancer SMART talk’ sessions which promote the need for people to engage with screening programmes and aim to make cancer an every day conversation. The retired GP said:

“This event was excellent and it enabled us to connect with other organisations and members of the public. Hopefully this will lead to further engagement and opportunities to deliver our talk.”

Organisers said they hoped the event provided a sizeable snapshot of Leeds’s vibrant third-sector community – which currently numbers around 3,000 organisations and groups across the city – and helped make it easier for people to take that first step to accessing help.

Jenny Bull, Forum Central Communications Manager, said:

“It can sometimes seem daunting to reach out to organisations but hopefully this event made it easier to overcome that perceived barrier and for people to take a chance to help themselves, without waiting until things are really bad.

“Support is out there for anyone who needs it, and in a way which suits them. ‘Mental health’ is something for everyone to consider and be aware of and the third sector offers so much to people in Leeds.

“Our city’s organisations do wonderful, life-changing work through peer support, ‘formal’ therapies and interventions, by tackling wider determinants such as housing and finances and also through activities and events which encourage a sense of community and togetherness – all of these contribute to people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Gabriella Obeng Nyarko, mental health development work at Forum Central, said she hoped the array of services on offer throughout the day showed how varied that support can be. She said:

“It’s been great – we had a variety of services which support people with homelessness, some gardening organisations, women’s organisations, services who support people with learning disabilities, people from different backgrounds – a whole ride range.

“We were really happy to give people a taste of what services in Leeds do for people; keeping communities safe, keeping communities healthy.

“We hope to do this again next year – bigger and even better.”

A full list of mental health services available to people in Leeds can be found on the MindWell website.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week was ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’.

The MindWell website explains more about how movement can have a positive impact on wellbeing and also lists 30 free or low-cost exercise groups in Leeds.

Photos from the day

Photo of the barnardo's and Turning lives around stall

wide angle photo capturing the busy market place event with over 9 stall in view and several people engaged in conversation

people pose for a photo at the event

photo of Meshebah Community Interest company banner and founders

photo of the gipsil stall and it's employee with a member of the public

photo of stalls and people at the event

photo of the bustling marketplace event