Leanne Wood (Rhondda AM and Leader of Plaid Cymru) met with John Rose (Director of the Big Lottery Fund Wales) to visit the Valleys Steps project.
The Rhondda AM met staff, volunteers and participants at Treorchy Library. Valleys Steps Limited were awarded £250,000 in June 2016 from the Big Lottery Fund, thanks to players of the National Lottery who make grants like this possible.
The project delivers a real, local alternative to the need for prescription medication for people, in particular those suffering stress and anxiety related mental health issues, by offering mindfulness and stress control courses.
Since it got going a year ago, the project has helped nearly 2,000 participants. The courses it offers are open to anyone and are advertised on Valleys Steps website.
Local GPs signpost the course to patients they think might benefit, but anyone is welcome to come along and take part – all the courses are advertised on Valleys Steps own website. Felicity Crump, Valleys Steps' Service Manager explained.
“The idea is that anyone who wants to improve their own well-being can come along and learn some techniques that they can practise independently. Joining a course is as simple as turning up.
"There is no fee and courses are run as lectures so participation is very unthreatening, there is no expectation that participants will engage directly with the lecturer or the rest of the group.
“People who have taken part in the course report that their wellbeing has improved so we know it works.”
Rhondda AM Leanne Wood said: “Initiatives like Valleys Steps are worthy of the support it has attracted from the Big Lottery Fund. Valleys Steps help people with mental health problems and seek to treat those problems without medication before a medical intervention is required.
“Catching a mental health problem in its early stages is vital to the prospects of that person making a full recovery. There is a lot more to be done in mental health treatment concerning earlier interventions – particularly with teenagers – so I’m pleased that an organisation like Valleys Steps is getting this financial backing.
“Plaid Cymru has long been an advocate of tackling mental health through talking therapies which often negate the need for medication. This is why we insisted that money be earmarked for this as part of our budget negotiations with the Welsh Government.”
John Rose, Director of the Big Lottery Fund Wales added: “I am delighted that we could introduce Rhondda AM Leanne Wood to this project. It was clear that she already had a lot of empathy with its aims and, like the Big Lottery Fund, I think she was really impressed with the impact Valleys Steps is having.
"Players of the National Lottery should be really proud that they have enabled us to give a grant to this project which is making a real difference by giving people the skills they need to take control of their own wellbeing.”