Cambridgeshire town leads the way with new mental health project

Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Katie Ridley.

A town in Cambridgeshire is leading the way when it comes to mental health with a new project. 

More than two years ago, the community in St Ives came together in an effort to become the first ever CALM (campaign against living miserably) town in the UK.

Set up by a group of residents, the group is led by Methodist Minister Matt Finch and pub landlord Phil Pope in a bid to highlight mental health and wellbeing across the entire community. 

One of the reasons that the group was set up was due to a number of suicides in the town. One of those being popular face 28-year-old Carl Malik, who took his own life in 2018, just seven years after his own father Kevin did the same.

Karl Malik and his father Kevin both took their own lives. They are one of the reasons that the CALM Town project was set up. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Since starting the project, the group have held ‘meet the street’ events where they encourage neighbours to meet and to look out for one another. 

Their next project is a big one. To get 100 people in the town to be trained as mental health first aiders, so that they can offer support and signpost people in the right direction if they are struggling.

Matt Finch is one of the volunteers behind the project. Credit: ITV News Anglia

According to the charity MIND, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. In St Ives there is a population of around 19,000 people, which suggests that 5,000 people in the town could be struggling. 

Claire Tevlin is a voluntary care worker, she is lined up to get her mental health firstaider training soon.

Residents are hoping that the project will provide support and friendship for those who feel isolated, and hope other towns will follow in their footsteps.

If you need help and support, call Mind's helpline, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. 

Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week.