Community mental health group continues to offer support to residents of Grantham

A mental health support group, described as a “community ecosystem” by organizers, helps prevent suicide and promote mental well-being.

BHive Community Centre, based in Finkin Street, Grantham, continues to expand its range of support for people with mental or physical health issues and provides a safe space for anyone feeling vulnerable.

With a variety of over 14 different activity groups and support sessions offered weekly, BHive CEO Susan Swinburn encourages cooperation between groups and everyone involved in the BHive network.

Stamford College students join Malcolm Swinburn, Sandra Mullin MBE, Rob Dixon and Susan Swinburn. (54653432)

Sessions available include coffee mornings, men’s and women’s support groups, art classes, knitting classes, and photography classes.

Susan describes the interconnectivity between the different groups and team leaders within BHive as “a community ecosystem” and said the service is “preventive, helping people feel independent, safe and happy”.

She said: “We are not in competition with anyone and we are here to support, share our knowledge and our facilities with others.

Stamford College students are helping revamp the sensory garden at BHive.  (54653415)
Stamford College students are helping revamp the sensory garden at BHive. (54653415)

“We want to empower people to be independent.”

BHive’s multiple mental health groups are supported by the friendly NHS Neighborhood Team, which provides non-clinical mental health support, with Susan adding that ‘not everyone wants to go to the doctor [about mental health]”.

Susan explained that a single point of access to BHive can open a person up to the full range of opportunities available at the center.

In addition to this, the community center encourages cooperation between local businesses, with Susan giving an example of home bakers working together to share recipes, materials or even customers when a member is overwhelmed with orders.

She stressed the importance that “everyone helps each other and promotes the best of Grantham. It’s not dog eat dog. It is priceless.

Malcolm Swinburn, former CEO of BHive, now supports the centre’s development. He explained the importance of the men’s group, which offers support to men with mental health issues.

He said: ‘The original main focus of the men’s group was suicide prevention, we’ve had some very positive examples of work being done here that actually prevents someone from taking their own life.’

Malcolm said that last week the expertise of the BHive helped prevent someone from committing suicide.

He added: “After being supported, he is now in a better place and still alive and well.

“The family always has a father. The woman always has a husband and the mother always has a son. They are all so important.

Malcolm said one of the nicest things about helping people was that they came back to give something back to the center by volunteering their time when they were in a better place mentally, which Malcolm said was ‘humiliating’ .

Rob Dixon, a retired salesman, provides invaluable support to BHive as a volunteer fundraiser.

Rob said if he hadn’t been able to volunteer, he might have needed the services offered by BHive to support his mental health. He said, “This is my release.”

When it was deemed that BHive’s Sensory Garden needed a little TLC, Rob helped source materials, supplies and equipment from area businesses.

In addition to this, the Masonry Department at Stamford College lends a helping hand every Tuesday until the work is finished, to give students experience of a real project.

Rob hopes the garden will be ready in six weeks and will then become a useful place for many BHive groups and will be used for confidential one-on-one meetings for people new to the service.

He called the garden “a real community thing. All groups will use it”.

There are also initiatives at BHive to collect food for Grantham Foodbank and to take donations of unwanted toys, which are distributed to children in need.

Since 2005, Sandra Mullin MBE has run a project called ‘On Yer Bike Grantham’ which restores and repairs unwanted bikes and finds them a new home.

However, Sandra didn’t have a permanent base for the project until she got involved with BHive and now has her own space to store and work on the bikes, and a wider range of volunteers willing to help.

Sandra said, “Every kid should have a bike.”

“[The BHive is] really going to be something. This is exactly what Grantham needs.

One person who frequents BHive’s dementia cafe called the service a “haven of friendship and support”.

They said: “We love coming to see friends, some of whom we have known over the years who are now like us struggling with the effects of living with dementia.

“It’s a fun few hours and there’s always someone to talk to and ask for advice and it’s a great and valuable resource for my husband and I. I’m so glad I heard about it and decided to come. If someone has a loved one with dementia, BHive is like family, only better.

BHive is calling on more volunteers who are good listeners to come and help organize support sessions. If you are interested call 01476 592775 or email [email protected]