MHAW2024 – Celebrating the success of Together services in Reading in providing mental health support

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 Together’s services in Reading and Berkshire held events across the area to celebrate the impact they have had in supporting people who experience mental distress. Those services are based within hospital settings and in the community and mean people in the region can access different forms of support depending on the circumstances they may be facing.

MHAW2024 – Celebrating the success of Together services in Reading in providing mental health support

Together has five services in the area and the first of those is Berkshire West Breathing Space which is a safe, welcoming and supportive space for anybody aged over 18 experiencing emotional distress and struggling to cope. Staff will speak to people about how they’re feeling and what is concerning them and will listen and help to develop a plan to stay safe and well, including coping strategies. Also available in Berkshire is the Berkshire Managing Emotions Programme, which offers easy access to psychoeducational courses, designed to equip people with a range of tools and skills to enable them to manage emotions more effectively. That is open to people from across the whole borough and helps individuals to make positive changes with their ability to manage intense emotions.

Based specifically in the Reading area is the Reading Community Outreach Service which provides mental health support in the community to improve the wellbeing of people and help build resilience and independence to combat issues like poverty and inequality that impact mental wellbeing. April 2024 saw the launch of Reading Community Outreach Plus, a new initiative to support individuals aged over 50 facing serious mental health challenges or special needs who can find support, companionship, and expert guidance. Finally there is the Through winter’s chill, Together we heal service which aims to prevent hospital admissions in Reading as well as supports clinicians in faster discharges, helps service users to reintegrate back into the community after their hospital admission.

All of the services have worked alongside a large number of people in the community who have used them to support their mental wellbeing with a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. The team in Reading feel their commitment to enhancing mental health in the community is demonstrated through the diverse and impactful services they provide. They continue to support and empower people who use the services through innovative programmes and community partnerships. Most of the services have been commissioned by Reading Borough Council and the NHS and the team collaborate with them effectively to ensure they can support as many people as possible.

Exhibitions took place on Tuesday the 14th of May 2024 and were located in key areas of Reading including the central library, the cinema “Biscuit Factory”, the Broad Street Mall shopping centre and the Reading Train Station. People attending the exhibitions could speak with staff and people who access the services to hear about the support provided through things like group sessions and generally raise awareness around mental health and wellbeing.

The team were delighted to welcome Mayor of Reading, Councillor Tony Page who came along to the exhibitions to celebrate the work of the services and commented:

I was delighted to participate in this amazing event to our town, The Art & Poetry Exhibition in Reading, proudly hosted by Together for Mental Wellbeing. This event showcases the incredible talent within our community, highlighting the power of art and poetry in supporting mental health and wellbeing. I have been deeply impressed by the remarkable work that Together for Mental Wellbeing has done to uplift and support our local communities. Their dedication is truly inspiring.

As alluded to, artwork produced by people who use the services, with support from local artists, was displayed at Hollybrook Gallery and other venues in Reading. That was to showcase the impact of Wellbeing and Art Workshops that have been running since the summer of 2023 and the benefits they have provided for people involved.


Reflecting on the exhibitions on the day and the services overall Together Head of Regional Operations for the South East and Coast, Gianluca Zucchelli said:


All participants to this project have experienced an improvement in their mental wellbeing through artistic expression and social connections. This transformation happened within the same local communities' venues that this week host the artwork produced by people who access our services, our therapists and artists.

Projects & Services Manager for Together Berkshire, Andre Silva added:

I am immensely proud of my team for their unwavering dedication to supporting our service users on their journey towards improved mental wellbeing. Managing the services in Reading has been a rewarding experience, and I am deeply thankful for the local artists who have generously supported our service users and projects for free. This Art & Poetry Exhibition is a testament to the power of community collaboration. I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone involved, especially our local partners, without whom this amazing event across different venues in Reading would not have been possible.