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Kieran McMahon , CEO Disability Stockport

"We also helped a few smaller organisations such as STUFF with their support work, sharing our equipment and resources. STUFF made a vital contribution to mental health and practical support during this period. They were typical of the amazing response of some of the smaller community groups in the absence on the ground of many of the larger service providers."

Showcasing our first local heroes supporting a very real crisis - team STUFF

Simone Callaghan

Connecting businesses to their communities.

Published Apr 9, 2020

Stockport User Friendly Fellowship otherwise know as STUFF have been providing mental well-being support in Stockport since 1999, they became a registered charity in 2018.

What they normally do?

They provide mental health support for people in the Stockport area who are suffering and recovering from a range of mental health problem, offering a range of social, therapeutic, leisure, volunteering opportunities/activities that take place in mental health community settings and throughout the wider community recognising individuality. They support people of all ages from 18, with their oldest member being 90, on their recovery journey.

What they are currently doing in response to the Covid19 crisis?

They are currently experiencing increased referrals asking for support due to self-isolation of many of their service users who are in the high-risk group. Closure of Stockport's only mental health day centre where people usually go for daily support are unable to meet there due to current government restriction. STUFF are currently one of the few points of contact for many. They have moved from their base within the mental health unit at Stepping Hill Hospital and have redeployed all volunteers into outward facing community support which includes shopping, collecting prescriptions, dropping off Foodbank vouchers (sticking by government guidelines of distance).

They are in phone and text contact weekly with members and for those they feel are most in need, there is daily contact, as their usual community drop-in support is currently closed.

They are also offering support for those who are on pre-payment gas/ electric meters that have stopped working and/ or are struggling to get out to top up. Usage has gone up with the need to stay in!

STUFF are a small team of lived experience staff led by the lovely Dianne and Bart and with a handpicked team of volunteers with specialist skills and knowledge in the area of mental health support. They could really do with our help and have set out ways you can get involved in the support effort below.

Food crisis hamper for service users in isolation

Ways you can help

"We are in need of: MOT style seat covers, strong bags, couple of phones, food donations but storage is currently an issue as we are working from our homes. The list of people requiring support is growing and we are unable to bulk buy shopping due to supermarket restrictions.

Our funds are depleting due to our need to support our service users with essential items even providing microwaves on occasions. Access to additional monies at this time would be a huge help to allow us to continue to support over the coming months. Many of our service users have very complex mental health needs and this situation has only raised their difficulties. We seek to support them however we can often the only people ringing to check on them a few times a week and dropping essential items to their doorsteps. If you can help us at this time of crisis, we would be forever grateful. Simone from The Goodness Collective has set up a temporary Just Giving Page whilst we await our charity page for approval. Even £5 would help us buy bread and milk for a family for a week or an electric card top up.

If you can’t support us in any of the above ways, please do follow us on twitter @stockport_uff and share our posts and this plea for support. Social media and online fundraising support would be fantastic!

Thank you and stay safe from Dianne, Bart and all at team STUFF"

Let's support these local heroes, who will miss out on many of the government support schemes and funding pots set up as they are just to small to even register on many of the schemes radars. Small but mighty and supporting people in your local area. I don't like to put pressure on but really if you can help please do, it is so needed right now.

Thank you for taking the time to read STUFF's story and supporting their efforts any way you are able. Simone

We are really pleased we have been able to support the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Faculty of General Adult Psychiatry Annual Conference in October 2019 with a Masterclass on Supporting people through the welfare benefit jungle with Dr Jed Boardman and Gareth Williams

Powerful Partnership Working

Delivered by Ingeus in Greater Manchester, Working Well (Work and Health Programme) provides tailored support to individuals with disabilities and health conditions who are seeking employment.

The support scheme sometimes works in partnership with other agencies to offer an encompassing service to clients who are seeking job opportunities, but are also struggling to manage a range of personal and practical issues that are having a negative impact on their lives and families.

Ingeus keyworker Wendy Willis has been working with 27 year-old ‘Susan’, a single mother, for nearly six months. Susan’s identity has been protected as she has experienced a difficult separation from a partner and needed safe accommodation for herself and her three children.

“Stockport Homes, which manages the housing stock for Stockport Council, was trying to find Susan new accommodation in another part of the borough,” explained Wendy. “She needed to move away from her current location as she was experiencing increasing levels of anti social behaviour.

“She wanted to work in the care sector and I helped her to update her CV. Susan was also referred to our mental health practitioner who supported her and recommended that she seek further treatment with her GP.”

Wendy helped Susan in her job search and she was soon offered work with a local homecare provider.


Ingeus colleague Jan Eddisford, with Working Well (Work and Health Programme), liaised with a housing officer at Stockport Homes and was able to find a suitable new property for Susan and her family. Since her employment gave Susan key worker status, the children’s new school accepted the transfer request and was able to provide places.

“There was a further problem with the planned move as Susan did not have sufficient funds to pay for a removal company,” explained Wendy. “Jan also contacted a local community group, the Stockport User Friendly Fellowship, who offered to cover Susan’s moving expenses. The fellowship group helped iron out a few teething problems and now Susan is settling into her new home and has begun working as a care provider.”

Susan commented: “Everyone has been just amazing, I can’t think of any other word to describe the help and support that I have received – and it is still ongoing. Wendy is currently liaising with my employers concerning my shift patterns and I hear regularly from the Stockport Fellowship to ask if I need any further help. It was wonderful that I received this support when I really needed it and everyone is just so easy to talk to. They understood what I was going through and the problems I was facing.”

The Rev Dianne Scott-Fowler, Chairperson with Stockport User Friendly Fellowship, added: “We are a registered mental health and wellbeing charity that is providing practical help and support in the community. Our partnership with Working Well (Work and Health Programme) has been incredibly positive and we have the flexibility to respond very quickly to a situation. If the need is urgent, we can provide assistance within four hours.”

Working Well (Work and Health Programme) is an initiative commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and receives support from the European Social Fund.

Ingeus have been awarded the contract package area (CPA3b) in Greater Manchester for the government's new Restart Programme launching this summer.

Keira’s Kingdom have made an outstanding effort to reach out and collaborate with other community groups in Stockport in order to provide a better service for the people they support. Stockport User Friendly Fellowship are now taking referrals from Keira’s Kingdom and helping them with shopping, gas and electric bills and other essential supplies. “Together we can offer a much more all-rounded support,” Michelle explained. “Stockport User Friendly Fellowship have been amazing with the people who we support.”

Michelle is keen to continue the collaboration between Keira’s Kingdom and Stockport User Friendly Fellowship after the lockdown is over. “I have always reached out and tried to work collaboratively with other groups and organisations since setting up Keira’s Kingdom and I am finding working collaboratively with Stockport User Friendly Fellowship is having a real positive impact on the people who we support. In the future post-Covid we plan to keep working together.”

“It’s hard work but I feel certain charities and community groups have really stepped up to the mark with the outbreak of COVID-19. It has shown that Stockport does have a very strong VCSE sector and how connected to their communities they are.”

Dual Diagnosis Support message:

"I have given your details to a friend,I know that if anyone can help her and her family, you can. You have so much knowledge and skills around dual diagnosis/addiction and SMI (serious mental illness)"

Holistic Therapy Testimonials

For 2018 we welcome Judith Thurston Ayurvedic Therapist supporting Service Users with mental wellbeing, relaxation, massage.

Judith brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the group taking a person centred approach to wellbeing.


"Judith creates such a warm, welcoming atmosphere. As a volunteer with STUFF I took time out for a head massage, what a wonderful experience. The tranquility of the room took me on a journey of full relaxation like I have not encountered before. I left relaxed, refreshed and had the best night's sleep in a long while. I would recommend everybody that can tries this excellent for mental health and wellbeing."

- Dianne

A quote from one of our visitors who is 90 years of age: 

"This is the first time I have ever tried anything like this. I will be doing it more. It was a wonderful feeling."

( It just shows there is a first time for everything ) 

" I have felt very relaxed and uplifted after Judith's head massage, it's excellent for good mental health and wellbeing, I can't recommend this enough. Judith brings a calmness with every stage of the therapy leaving you uplifted and able to have a good night sleep."

- Julian 

" When having the head massage by Judith I was able to drift away in the atmosphere helping to relieve tensions and stresses not only of everyday life but it boosted also my mood and I felt well the next day also."

- Bart 

"Judith Thurston's therapy services are a boon to wellbeing. I feel mentally and physically revitalised after every session.

I would recommend Judith to anyone interested in non-medical interventions."

- Andy

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