What’s working well and where are the areas for development at Hearts and Minds?
The Hearts and Minds Partnership, supported by The National Lottery Community Fund, is continuously shaped by feedback from the broader perinatal mental health community.
As part of our ongoing evaluation, which runs in parallel to our programme of work, we’d like to share the findings from our Interim Evaluation Report. In the spirit of the Partnership, this means recognising successes, but also bringing honesty and integrity by identifying areas for development.
The report covered the initial phase of the Partnership’s work up to the end of 2021 and provides feedback on awareness, engagement, experience and perceptions of the Partnership. The findings have been informed by:
Interviews with the Hearts and Minds team
Five focus groups with healthcare professionals, including midwives, health visitors, specialist perinatal teams and GPs
A survey of voluntary and community sector services
Interviews with five VCS services who have engaged with the Partnership
Five key points to mention
Awareness of the Partnership was high among the VCS community, though this comes with a disclaimer of bias given that respondents were likely to already be engaged with us, given their active participation. Our survey provided space for organisations to share their understanding of the role of Hearts and Minds, with responses including phrases such as ‘sharing learning’, ‘a community of organisations’ and ‘peer support for peer support’.
However, awareness among the wider healthcare professional community was relatively low. Where there was higher awareness, it was often due to existing links with the three founding partner charities: Acacia Family Support, Bluebell Care and Smile Group. Healthcare professionals generally acknowledged the credibility of the VCS sector but felt that provision varied across the country. This supports our work to grow the interactive map of VCS services to map the gaps in provision.
Our takeaway is to continue to build relationships with healthcare professional networks in perinatal mental health across broader geographical areas to inform them of our work.
Hearts and Minds introduced the Conversation Space as a free, online monthly meet-up for the VCS community as a trusted space to come together and share learning. While this attracts a mix of new, emerging and established community-led services, it was interesting to note that the majority of these had been in operation for six or more years.
Feedback on the Conversation Space was consistent and positive, with interviewees valuing the time to share with others and learn.
“I think the whole team at The Hearts and Minds Partnership have a very similar sort of ethos to us as a programme. They encourage and support people to flourish and thrive. I feel like there's not a massive hierarchy, and they do see the potential in everybody.”
The Partnership is keen to develop more face-to-face engagement opportunities given that we are no longer tied by pandemic restrictions and we value everyone’s contribution to these ongoing conversations.
It’s reassuring to see a sense of shared identity among the VCS community is developing as a result of the Partnership’s work, however, it’s no reason to get complacent as there is still more work to be done!
Those actively engaged with Hearts and Minds generally considered the Partnership to be a trusted source of information and resources.
The learning opportunity for us comes from the confusion expressed by respondents on what it means to be part of Hearts and Minds. Our three workstreams to develop an interactive map of VCS services, create trusted spaces and create a training programme, prompted respondents to feel unsure about whether they needed to be on the map to be considered part of the community. We’d like to clarify here that there’s no prerequisite to be on the map in order to be part of the community – you are most welcome as a VCS in perinatal mental health if you are aligned with our Charter and the spirit of the Partnership!
It was great to see that the map is the most popular aspect of the website, with 83% of time spent on the website engaged with it. We’re thrilled to see ongoing engagement from VCS services going through the checklist submission process in order to feature on the England-wide map.
The map is growing organically and there is work to do to manage expectations as there are currently gaps in some areas. VCS services have required support with the process to submit a checklist and complete essential safety checks. This has been underpinned by our outreach work to get to know services and so they understand our intentions and we can support them in the best possible way.
Plans are now well underway with the development of online training to meet the needs of both emerging and established VCS services in the sector. Our team is planning an event in Birmingham later this year to bring the VCS community together, given the appetite to meet face-to-face. We also aim to start identifying gaps in support as our map continues to be populated, so that we have more of a strategic overview of areas where there is less provision, in order to inform and encourage more investment into the grassroots. There is a clear need, from dialogue with the VCS community, to articulate our value as a sector in a consistent way so that policy makers have access to sector-wide data to demonstrate the impact of the VCS community as part of an integrated pathway.
While it’s not an official finding of the Interim Evaluation Report, we’re keen to express our thanks and recognise the reciprocal nature of our work. We are grateful for all the engagement, participation, interest and support for The Hearts and Minds Partnership as it is the essence of our work and we thrive on these valuable connections.
If you’d like to read the Executive Summary of findings, or you have any questions or would like support with the process to feature on the map, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email@example.com