Pictured: Cllr Alison Web, Executive Member at Breckland Council presents Cllr Atterwell, Chairman of Swanton Morley PC, with their Mindful Village award.

Swanton Morley has been named Norfolk’s first ‘mindful village’ on World Mental Health Day, after a group of residents accessed the Breckland Mindful Towns programme and trained to become mental health community champions.

Breckland Council launched the Mindful Towns scheme in partnership with Norfolk and Waveney Mind and Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney in 2021. The program offers free Mental Health training and education to Breckland based community organisations and small businesses. The programme recognises those areas who engage with the scheme as a community, and who put provision in place to enhance the mental health of local residents, with Mindful Town or Village award status .

Over the past 6 months, residents from the thriving Breckland village have undertaken a wide variety of training including Mental Health Awareness, to 2 day Mental Health first aid courses, all of which have equipped them with the skills to hold safe conversations with confidence, and the knowledge of how to signpost vulnerable residents towards appropriate support. All the training has been delivered by Norfolk and Waveney Mind, and Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney, and has been funded through Breckland Council’s Inspiring Communities programme.

The group are applying the skills learned within the setting of the Swanton Morley community café they have established within the local village hall, in partnership with the local parish council. The community cafe offers residents a safe place to meet others, a warm drink, and hot food. The café also welcomes the Breckland Community Food Bus on weekly basis, and is visited by Breckland Councils Community Connector team.

Cllr Alison Webb, Executive Member Executive Member for Health & Communities for Breckland Council, commented: “I am delighted to present the Mindful Village award to Swanton Morley. Vulnerable residents now have the chance to attend their community cafe, safe in the knowledge that the volunteers running it have been trained with the skills to help signpost and support them towards appropriate support in times of mental distress. Now, more than ever, it is important that mental health support is available to everyone who needs it in our community.”

Cllr Roger Atterwell, Chairman of Swanton Parish Council and local Breckland Ward Member commented: “As a Parish Council team, mental health is now very much at the forefront of our decision making, therefore I am delighted to see the village recognised as one of Norfolk/Breckland’s first mindful villages. In the future we aim to open a “Men’s Shed” in the village, which will support men who often find it very difficult to talk about their emotions and can therefore be difficult to reach out to. By working in partnership with other stakeholders we hope to make this project a reality for Swanton Morley.”

Cllr Richard Duffield, local Breckland Council Ward member commented: “Raising awareness of Mental health support is vital in rural communities. The new mental health champions, supported by the community café, and Breckland Food Bus, will ensure local residents have access to advice and support when needed most. I hope our award inspires other villages in the area to take up the training and support being offered by the Inspiring Communities programme.”.

For more information on Mindful Towns and Villages visit www.breckland.gov.uk/community/mindful-towns