• Donnington Grove

Vital report focuses on mental health and homelessness



Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF), is today publishing its annual Vital Signs Report, highlighting challenges faced in Berkshire. Understanding needs and issues in a community are the first step to being able to tackle them. This is what the Vital Signs programme does, allowing us to identify the issues affecting the most vulnerable in our society and guide the generosity of local philanthropists towards area’s most in need.


We report on worrying trends in worsening mental health and increasing levels of homelessness in Berkshire.

  • In 2014-15, over 46,000 adults in Berkshire were recorded as having depression and over 7,000 new cases were added – a6% increase on the previous year.
  • The Homelessness Monitor 2017 shows a 132% increase in rough sleeping since 2010 and a 34% increase in households accepted as homeless by local authorities.


Responses to our survey highlight a need to focus on improving mental health in the workplace, better signposting of services and the crucial importance of a safe home.


  • Stress related conditions account for 37% of all work related ill health and 45% of working days lost according to national statistics. With 54% of firms relying on staff support for managing mental health-related long-term absence and just over a quarter having no employee support systems in place, there needs to be a concentration on developing a more ‘open’ mental health culture within Berkshire businesses.


  • GP patient surveys show that in Berkshire, Bracknell & Ascot is highest for people reporting a long-term mental health problem and across Berkshire an estimated 6,800 people have a severe mental illness. It is therefore vital that sufferers have early access to support to advert crisis and crucial signposting of services.


  • Feeling secure in a safe home is essential to physical and mental health and a key factor in recovery from mental illness. Reading and Slough are in the top 50 local authorities with high levels of homelessness. It is essential that we focus on supporting local charities and support services which vulnerable people are turning to for help.


The good news is that philanthropy is making a difference. In 2016/2017 BCF awarded £979,263 in grants across Berkshire to groups offering a range of support addressing need including: offering over 2,000 counselling sessions to young people, supporting isolated parents/carers via a helpline; providing low income families with information and advice to enable them to reduce energy costs and placing 44 volunteers into local charities.


“We had a fantastic response to our Vital Signs survey for this year. This year’s report has found significant and growing issues affecting our local community, with mental health and homelessness proving to be the biggest challenges across the board.  With deepening cutbacks in vital services, particularly around mental health, more people are facing difficulties. This is why it is imperative that we, as a Community Foundation, do everything we can to support the local voluntary sector who are striving to fill gaps in provision and address suffering. We are continuing to encourage grassroots philanthropy in our local community to ensure that this need is met” Jim Fyfe, Head of Development at BCF.


The full Vital Signs report, proudly sponsored by Panasonic, can be found here. BCF can be contacted by email or by calling 01189 303021.