Future of the Kniveden Project

There have been some worries expressed in recent times about the future of the Kniveden Project, so we want to let local people know about the work both now and into the future that Combined Healthcare and the Project are doing to continue to support those benefiting from its services.

We want local people needing support and help with their mental health to receive it. We want them to be able to develop new skills, to benefit from enjoyable leisure and therapeutic activities and get access to training.  And we want this to take place in a way that is safe both for them and for the staff providing the services and support.

For those not familiar with the Kniveden Project in Leek, we should explain what it does.

It offers a range of meaningful day activities where people can learn various skills, undertake formal and less formal training opportunities, enjoy leisure, recreational and therapeutic activities such as gardening, in a supported and safe community environment.

The Project provides these services to 58 people. The Trust assesses and regularly reviews each and every service users support needs and the staff and service users know each other very well and are in regular contact.

The services have been in place for many years however there is no specific funding stream for them. As such the Trust has for many years relied on the goodwill of others to support the arrangement. An example of this is the generous long term support given by the County Council by allowing us to use the Kniveden site at no cost.

Putting aside for a moment the current challenges brought on by COVID-19, should these goodwill gestures remain and current facilities continue to be available, we very much expect Kniveden services to continue into the future for the current group using the Project. If COVID-19 disappeared tomorrow, the service could revert immediately to its previous way of working.

Of course at present we are all very aware of the risk that Covid-19 brings which is at present on the rise. So to keep all involved safe we have had to think hard and creatively about how we can continue to support those benefitting from Kniveden in the short-term. This process of adaptation is no different to how all our other services are currently operating and have done so throughout the pandemic. During this time one thing above all is clear, Combined Healthcare will maintain its responsibility for ensuring mental health care to service users. Staff will continue to work with each service user to assess their needs and develop individual plans that meet these needs. To support this, the Trust has completed individual risk assessments with each service user.

Under the interim arrangements brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have kept in touch with service users and supported their mental health needs. This includes digital and face to face contact as required. We are also in the process of exploring and in some cases where it is safe to do so introducing various other activities including volunteering, adult education classes, arts and crafts groups, horticulture, practical and personal care, sport, cafes, and pilates.

The wider service offer mentioned above is all the more important given the possibility in the future that the land housing the Kniveden Project may be sold on. As such our ongoing work with local voluntary sector organisations, the service users and carers concerned and other local residents is key to ensure there is continuing provision for service users in the longer term.

In summary, once Covid-19 abates and we can ensure the site can operate in a socially-distanced, safe manner, with the support of the County Council we plan to return to Kniveden and continue the Project. We also hope that additional opportunities such as those described above will also be available which will help prepare for any future land sale. This will ensure that those historically benefiting from the Project and perhaps others that could benefit from these types of activites, will be supported through a wider range of offers than ever before. In the meantime we will do all that we can to maximise the groups health and wellbeing.

Our primary concern in all that we do is to ensure that the people who have hitherto benefited from the Kniveden Project are able to have their needs met and their welfare looked after in the future.