Lee Townsend

Pastor Bolo Thomas

Residents are being offered free mental health first aid training so they can support each other through the fallout of the pandemic.

Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid is campaigning with Croydon Council and community groups to get 1,000 residents to sign up for a four-day online course funded entirely by the Council and TfL.

It’s targeting people who already provide informal support or a shoulder to cry on, whether you’re a sports coach, a trusted auntie or just a neighbour who cares.

So far, over 300 applications will receive training run by MHFA England and over 100 have already completed the course.

Pastor Bola Thomas, from the His Grace Food Bank on Beulah Road who completed the course said: “It is tailored in a way that is quite culturally sensitive and we are looking at various approaches including hope and faith in the way that we implement some of the outcomes of this training. I believe that people like us should speak for people like us. There is going to be lots of opportunity to engage within our community and in order to do this we need to be aware of the key issues.”

The campaign comes after mental health charity Mind revealed the scale of the impact of Covid on mental health with more than one in five adults with no previous experience of mental health problems, some 22 per cent of the population, saying their mental health is poor or very poor in a survey of 16,000.

Charity worker and mental health advocate Lee Townsend said the course was ‘absolutely’ invaluable’.

He encouraged people to: “We are all in this together, none of us are perfect. We all have different struggles and different troubles. At the end of the day if each one helps one, we can build a strong community where people are able to self actualise and be at their best.”

Rowena Davis, organiser for Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid said: “Whilst volunteers can never replace frontline professionals, residents are often the first ones to recognise when someone they know or love is suffering. This training should help people recognise the signs of developing mental health problems and provide guidance for early intervention.”

To apply for the course email