We’ve big news – Mental Health North West has become a Community Interest Company.
When I first started delivering courses under the name Mental Health North West the aim was simple – to get help for mental health issues as much recognition as it needs – to help people have the skills to help someone in a crisis just as much as we help those who’ve had an accident.
Then 2020 happened and a pandemic put the nations mental health just as much at risk as it’s physical health. I volunteer for both the Ambulance Service and the Samaritans – and I’d genuinely say I don’t know which has been busier. With a lot of thinking time through various lockdowns I started to realise that Mental Health North West needed to be bigger and to reach more people.
Through the year we started delivering more and more supported walks through our Wellness Walks program to help people who were struggling with their mental health – it seemed the most natural thing in the world to use the surplus that we raise via delivering First Aid for Mental Health courses to fund this – basically exactly what a Community Interest Company (CIC) does – so we started to talk to the CIC Regulator’s office and they confirmed we met the criteria.
So what exactly is a Community Interest Company?
The UK Government define a Community Interest Company (CIC) as ” a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders.”
A perhaps easier way to describe it, one that’s often used, is as a “not for profit” company or a “social enterprise”.
There are very strict rules about how it can operate; for example there needs to be an “asset lock” which is a legal promise stating that the company’s assets will only be used for its social objectives, and setting limits to the money it can pay to shareholders – We’ve gone a stage further – we don’t pay any dividends to shareholders – all profits remain in the company to fund our social objectives.
So what does it mean for you the client?
Whilst we’ll obviously be paying our freelance instructors a respectable rate any surplus (profit) we make from our courses will now go directly to providing free and/or subsidised places on our Wellness Walks programs – so every time you book a course or day out with us you’ll know you’re directly helping support someone who needs help – a win:win for everyone involved.
And that’s not just a vague promise – its now part of our formal Articles of Association – and we’re officially obligated to make sure that happens by the Community Interest Company Regulator.
So what does it mean for the people we help?
There are some things we all simply know – how often after a tough day do you just feel an urge to go for a walk? to simply be outside? Despite all the advances of technology a lot of people feel more isolated now than ever before – to simply be able to talk with and to a real person, someone who’s been trained to listen – makes a huge, measurable difference. To be able to do it in a setting that makes your senses come alive, in a way that’s been designed to make you feel like you’ve achieved an overcome – it can be priceless. Our Walk & Talk sessions are often literally the first steps towards a better you.
Yet access to these sort of services is very limited, many people don’t have the confidence or skills to head out on their own, often its simply far too expensive for most, most NHS options involve sitting in a room with a ticking clock. We remove all of the worry, and let them begin the journey to feeling better.