Hoxton mother expands programme to tackle mental health in BAME communities
- Credit: Dounia Lich
A Hoxton mother who is on a mission to change the narrative surrounding mental health in the Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) community has expanded her project amid the pandemic.
Rochelle Nyabunze set up the Feel Good Community in 2018 to support BAME woman with mental health issues after she was diagnosed with post-partum depression.
But during the first national lockdown, she quickly adapted, growing the program to provide other essential services such as delivering hot meals, food and other essential items to vulnerable people and befriending calls to combat loneliness.
She told the Gazette: “When the pandemic hit, I [realised] I can't just stay indoors and not help other people that are struggling.”
Despite starting with no funding or resources, the Feel Good Community is now Rochelle’s full-time job, a registered community interest company, and was recently awarded a £15,000 grant by the Metropolitan Thames Valley housing association (MTVH).
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Since March, her team of volunteers have supported over 100 families and distributed more than 500 care packages.
Rochelle said: “My main focus is the BAME community, because of the disadvantages they face and how they were so severely affected by the pandemic. But we support anyone else that is in need.”
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While for now they mostly help people affected by the pandemic, Rochelle said: “We do know that there were issues before then. And the issues have increased because of the pandemic.”
"Mental health problems like depression and anxiety can be a taboo among BAME communities," Rochelle added.
“Conversations need to be had around the topic… I started [Feel Good] because I wanted to break that silence.”
She will use the £15,000 grant to continue existing services and expand into new ones, like Christmas hampers.
Saiful Alam, regional community coordinator at MTVH, said working with Rochelle helped his team understand the issues facing their residents and “build deeper, stronger and more trusting relationships with resident and communities”.
Rochelle added that MTVH’s support “has allowed us to focus our efforts and resources on supporting local families”.
Donate to Feel Good Community at https://www.gofundme.com/f/care-packages-for-our-vulnerable