A grand boost for wellbeing in the community

Published: Thursday 18 April 2024

Two male members of the SOC group are pictured in their hub holding large coloured numbers spelling out £1008.

A Hamilton community group has taken a relaxed approach to a cash boost from the council’s Participatory Budgeting (PB) fund.

That’s because a PB award of £1008 – voted for by local people - has enabled Supporting Our Community (SOC) to deliver holistic therapy training courses in Reiki levels one and two and advanced crystal healing class. 

Now, 23 members of the group are trained to deliver wellness treatments, a further boost to the award-winning charity’s aim to provide mental health and wellbeing support to its local community.

In the five years since SOC was established, the group has created a safe and welcoming space where local people can come together to improve wellbeing, grow in confidence, and build on or develop new skills.

Based in the heart of Hillhouse and run by a team of dedicated volunteers, its social HUB, is a place where the community can meet to pursue a host of hobbies, activities, and interests.

Explained Project Co-ordinator, Mark Rouse: “A key priority for us at SOC is reducing isolation, stress, anxiety, and depression, and we try to address this by encouraging vulnerable people to get out of their homes and into our hub where they can meet other people in a supportive and non-threatening environment. 

“We are delighted to have been able to use this money to fulfil the needs of local people who took time to vote on how it should be spent and are grateful to them and the council’s community engagement team for getting us to this point.”

More than 1600 residents of Hillhouse, Udston, and Burnbank took part place in the participatory budgeting public vote. SOC also hosted a pop-up event ensuring that all members got the opportunity to vote. 

The annual re-ranking of the ‘Our Place Our Plan’ neighbourhood plan took place simultaneously to ensure that members were actively involved in local priority setting. 

Council Leader and Chair of the Community Planning Partnership, Councillor Joe Fagan, said: “SOC was established just when the community needed it most as the pandemic began to take hold. In the years since the group has gone from strength to strength; their work has become invaluable and, for many, life-changing. 

“SOC and so many like them, are best placed to understand and support the priorities identified by those they live alongside, which is the essence of the PB process. 

“As a result, their effective and unique use of this £1008 from the PB fund has consolidated and enhanced the range of skills and support on offer to those struggling and empowered them to create effective and lasting changes to their mental wellbeing.”