Hafal’s new “Clic” online community launches at an event at Castle Gardens, Swansea next Wednesday (14th September, 11:30 – 15:00). The new, bilingual online community has been developed by people with direct experience of a mental illness in partnership with Hafal and the National Centre for Mental Health, and is funded by Big Lottery Wales.
Clic provides people in Wales with a mental illness and their carers with a safe and secure place online to support each other, share experiences and build new relationships – in either English or Welsh. The site also signposts people to useful information, contacts, resources and local services.
The Clic community will be accessible on laptops, tablets and phones and will be made available at a number of community venues across Wales. The online community will include a safe, regulated supported forum where users can create a profile, connect with others, comment on a number of threads and make friends.
Guests at the event next Wednesday will have the opportunity to try out the new service, have a seat in the classic Clic VW camper, be entertained by a live ukulele band and treated to tea and cake!
Dave Vice, Clic Coordinator, said: “We are very excited about the launch! The new online community has been developed by a team of people with direct experience of a mental illness, and we have already had great feedback about the service from those who have piloted it. We can’t wait to share it with the wider world.
“Clic provides the space for people to create a profile, talk about their experiences and make friends. It’s a safe place to connect with others in the same situation, wherever in Wales they may be.”
One of the key aims of Clic is to tackle the loneliness and isolation experienced by many people with a mental illness and their carers. Hafal recently conducted a survey of 480 people who access its services in which respondents (75% service users, 25% carers) completed a questionnaire on loneliness. A large majority (72%) said that loneliness made the symptoms of serious mental illness a great deal worse; 42% of respondents had been lonely in the past month and this increased to 50% when only service users were considered.
The project has been developed in partnership with the National Centre for Mental Health who will work to evaluate the service and inform its development over the coming years. The project has received £224,000 funding from the Big Lottery People and Places programme which funds projects that enable people to work together for strong communities, social justice and better rural and urban environments in Wales.
Dr. Catrin Lewis, a researcher at the National Centre for Mental Health who is working alongside Hafal to evaluate the programme, said “We are thrilled to be working with Hafal on this exciting project. The opportunity for individuals with mental illnesses and their carers to join Clic and connect with others, will doubtless be of huge benefit to many people across Wales. We look forward to working with Hafal over the coming years to evaluate the experiences of those who join the community and to help shape and improve the user experience over time.”
Alun Thomas, Hafal’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to receive funding from the Big Lottery to fund this groundbreaking project which will harness technology to reduce the loneliness and isolation experienced by people with a mental illness and their carers in Wales.
“Clic will provide new opportunities to link up and connect virtually with others in the same situation. With our partners at the National Centre for Mental Health we will create a safe, accessible and supportive Wales-wide community of people with a mental illness and their carers which will provide users with support, friendship and a sense of connectedness.”
Highlighting the importance of the People and Places programme, Rona Aldrich, Wales Committee Member for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Programmes like People and Places are making a difference to the lives of so many people in communities across Wales.
“It delivers on our promise to use National Lottery funding to regenerate and revitalise communities, tackle disadvantage head on and leave a lasting legacy.”