Isorropia Foundation, a mental health wellbeing organisation on the Isle of Wight, opened in 2019 and has offered multiple face-to-face activities and workshops to over 1,000 people since inception. The organisation is run by a blend of professionals and people with lived experience of mental health, who together have created a new approach designed to empower individuals to take responsibility for their own wellbeing.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Isorropia Foundation has prioritised the needs of members as well as the local community. As the country went into the first lockdown in March Isorropia decided to rapidly transform its provision to make their programme and interventions available online and over the phone. Ami Cripps, public and member engagement lead, explained: “As a team, we consolidated our skills to establish and invite our members to a private online Facebook area. Within days we had implemented an online structure, including daily morning videos, topic videos based around managing mental health, daily livestreams and even some interactive fun! We also worked with partners to provide telephone support to community volunteers and the vulnerable people they were supporting.”

In July Isorropia were delighted to receive a grant from WightAID, a local charitable foundation supporting projects which benefit Island people and places. This grant enabled them to build a media studio to professionalise and enhance the online programme and create more content. Charlie Bell, CEO: “We were then fortunate in September to receive confirmation that we had been awarded funding from the National Lottery Coronavirus Support Fund. This meant that we could expand our workforce to help more members and reach further across the Island communities.” To date, the online engagement has exceeded original expectations, reaching over 17,500 people in November alone.

During this time, Isorropia’s online programme has been independently evaluated by the Wessex Academic Health Science Network (Wessex AHSN). Wessex AHSN is part of a national network set up by NHS England to operate as the key innovation arm of the NHS. The evaluation explored how Isorropia managed the transfer of activities from a physical facility to online provision during the pandemic, the impact on members and the adaptations made to how the wellbeing model was delivered. The evaluation member survey showed that ‘73% of Isorropia’s members said they didn’t use urgent mental healthcare services during the lockdown period’ and ‘70% of Isorropia’s members felt that they were receiving enough support’. It suggested that the successful transition to online indicated the potential of a physical facility and online mixed service model in the future.

The daily programme of activities hosted on the private Facebook page (available 24/7) attracted 245 of the 264 members to register online, with an average of 122 members interacting each day during the week and 111 members over the weekends. It found that the adapted online services, as well as supporting existing members, enabled sixty new members to join and benefit from structured peer-led support during the initial lockdown period. The report authors found that ‘Many interview and survey respondents felt transformed by the service provided by the Isorropia Foundation’ and quoted members positively, with one commenting that “The content has really helped me to move forward with my wellbeing and also feeling so connected during a very disconnected time.”

You can read the evaluation report and its findings here: https://wessexahsn.org.uk/innovation-insight-library/97/independent-evaluation-of-the-isorropia-foundation-services
Vicki Haworth, CEO, states “Isorropia Foundation would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported us so generously. Your encouragement and backing have helped to transform our organisation to meet the specific needs arising from this pandemic, and to improve the wellbeing and resilience of our Island communities disrupted by Covid-19.”

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from mental wellbeing support, speak to your GP in the first instance. The Isorropia Foundation website at www.isorropia.uk contains a number of resources and videos that may help you, and you can find their public Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/isorropiafoundation/.