Maan Somali Mental Health Sheffield have received £18,596 funding from the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.

The funding is for the ‘Wada Hadal  – Let’s Talk’ initiative that will use community development strategies to engage with people, across different adult generations in the Somali community.

Maan Somali Mental Health Association will encourage dialogue and community led action to address the issue of violence facing all communities.  They will support people affected by mental health, parents, carers, families and the wider community to challenge negative images of the Somali community that is linked to the growing patterns of violence.

Representatives from the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit attended one of the Somali Women’s Carers and Friends sessions in Burngreave, Sheffield to see how they are changing attitudes about violence affecting the Somali community.

During the workshop, discussions were made around how people, affected by mental health including Maan’s Service Users, carers, family and the wider community , are particularly susceptible to exploitation by local criminal networks and how important it was for the Somali women to speak to their children about violence and the rise of gang culture.

Rachel Staniforth, Joint Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “Working with community groups such as Maan Somali Mental Health Association is key to passing on key messages from the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.  These workshops help us gain the opportunity to understand what perception the Somali community have of violence in their neighbourhoods.

“This initiative is different to many others in that it prioritises people affected by mental health issues.”

The funding from the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit will promote alternative activities for those who may be drawn into violence, providing a regular programme of events supporting dialogue, reflection and action learning around creating the conditions for change.

Informal and facilitated discussions will be used to explore social indicators of violence such as poverty, racism, Islamophobia, substance misuse, domestic abuse, school expulsion, and lack of education.

Sharmarke Ismail said: “Our starting point is to listen to communities and understand how a community-led approach can be developed in violence hot spots across Sheffield.  This theme and approach to bringing Somali community members together is unique, particularly those affected by mental health.

“We will be delivering workshops across Burngreave, Broomhall/Sharrow and Darnall to encourage people to build emotional resilience and provide opportunities for them to express their feelings. We will build links across generations using traditional storytelling, song, dance  and elements of the Somali wider culture to provide opportunities to challenge violent actions, encourage healthy social behaviours whilst avoiding community divisions.”

The participants involved in the initiative will access local and nearby green and blue spaces to support well-being and social engagement.

The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Fund was open for applications in October 2019 and is the first initiative from the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.  The Unit was set up with £1.6m Home Office Funding by Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.