Positive pathways for mental health sufferers created from tragedy with community rewards scheme and homelessness support
Pete Humphreys from Wrexham’s No.22 café and social hub tells us how a family bereavement inspired him to start supporting those living with terminal illness and helping feed the homeless with healthy meals while creating an app-based community reward scheme promoting community activity, wellbeing and kindness.
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Where did No.22 and the YaB idea originate?
YaB stands for ‘Yellow and Blue’ which represents two people in my life who both died of bowel cancer. The ‘Yellow’ is for close friend and ‘Blue’ is for my farther.
At first, the idea was to bring what was needed to them while they were suffering with the illness and then the idea grew to providing an uplifting, vibrant place for socialising and activities for people going through terminal illness – to communicate with other people going through the same.
When I lost father I struggled with life, and mental health. This is when I started to look at rewarding pathways – especially through digital means… this led to a passion of helping people suffering with mental health issues, homelessness and going through rehabilitation, too.
How did the digital rewards scheme develop and what are the benefits?
The digital rewards scheme is still being designed, café No.22 runs a pay it forward coffee scheme. We sell meals and drinks and part of the transaction gets paid forward to local causes – some of which are homeless and elderly.
We’re also are looking into app design and wearable devices to reward positive engagements by users of both services, suppliers, providers and volunteers.
This also incorporates behavioural science to nudge positive pathways and we should see traction with this alongside an internal economy as we grow. These positive pathways will hopefully create employment opportunities within our projected business proposals, the café and our hub. So people who are struggling with various aspects of life on the streets and mental health can work with people with a terminal diagnosis can get uplifting experiences to help them cope.
We are striving to create positive experiences, chances and moments of happiness and support all round within a rewarding environment both mentally and physically.
Can you give us a summary of what has been achieved?
We have supplied over 500 meals during the Covid-19 outbreak alone, working with voluntary and local services to deliver the meals hot and to the people who need it most. We have progressed with our group strategies offering exciting opportunities in clothes branding, events, wellness and related activities.
So far, we have built the community café and gained publicity for the café and community rewards scheme to help spread the message.
These will all provide employment, to the right candidates who come through support and embrace the positive YaB group mindset and outlook.
Did you have to overcome any major obstacles / challenges?
Lots! Education, knowledge and embracing ever-changing technology is key. Finding balance between current achievable work, the vision and actually making it all happen is vital. Financially it’s been difficult, and of course a blank cheque book would see us do so much. Also, it’s a fine balancing act between family, work and progressing with what we can do in the community.
The passion we have for this is huge – driven hugely by the very emotional origins of our work.
Sometimes the journey feels a bit lonely and I worry about asking people to help, as I feel it puts pressure on others. But, we have a great community and if it comes together at the right time I think the changes and support could be huge.
"We are striving to create positive experiences, chances and moments of happiness and support all round within a rewarding environment both mentally and physically."
The vision is to create the network, to bring people together and develop the Hub as a central point. We are looking at various options and even through Covid-19, we are building proposals for two very viable options. Fingers crossed if we continue to work hard in this current climate, coming out we will be in a good position to take the next steps.
We are building connections and are waiting on possible partnerships to develop and would welcome new collaborations. The key to this is communities coming together, an internal economy rewarding participation, engagement and support which will underpin positive outcomes for all involved.
Any there any members of staff / community you would like to give special mention to?
All staff who have been involved have been great, Rose, Mel and Robert are working hard. Jacqui Cross at Social Business Wales has been a huge help and she has been in regular contact throughout our development. Town Square – the Wrexham business hub – is a fantastic facility which we’ve utilised. And everyone else who has been an ear for us. Nigel Lewis from a local project called Wrexham Savers has been very supportive as have the staff at Tŷ Pawb where the café is currently located.
If you had one message for the social business sector right now, what would it be?
Communicate with each other, we all have lessons to learn and teach. Social businesses should be supportive of each other, joining forces is key rather than going it alone. This is something we are truly trying to embrace with our network.
Together we’re stronger, and strength creates a bigger change. You are only alone if you choose to be and the passion out there in the social enterprise sector is second to none.
If, like Pete, you work with local food producers and are interested in collaborating with social businesses in the sector, join the conversation on our Food Network for Social Businesses session next Wednesday. We’ll look at building local supply networks and will hear how others have overcome supply chain challenges to cope with increased demand.
No.22 has received business consultancy support and advice from Social Business Wales New Start, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.
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