Time to Change is a national campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to challenge the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health; to encourage people to confront the topic and not shy away from disclosing.

Over the years it has had a hugely positive impact raising awareness of the widespread prevalence of mental health issues, with celebrity endorsements including Stephen Fry, Gary Lineker and Gok Wan.

VC Hackney Change Together ProjectWe ran our own local Time to Change project in Hackney in partnership with Peter Bedford Housing Association. We recruited and trained 31 local residents with lived experience of mental health issues, to be Social Engagement Volunteers, to initiate conversations about mental health with the public. Using workshops, stalls, activities, and discussion forums, we engaged over 850 members of the public in conversation about mental health, with many people talking openly about their experience.

We held a stall at the African and Caribbean Cultural Family Fun Day, in Gillett Square for World Mental Health Day, at the older people’s Winter Warmers event, talked to members of the public visiting Dalston Library and the Peter Bedford Clissold Garden for Open Gardens. We held poetry and drawing workshops at the charity shop Outpost in Holloway, and used an LBGT art exhibition to discuss the impact of art on improving mental health.

Many of the volunteers who took part said the experience had greatly improved their confidence, having been able to confront their fears over talking about mental health. We, at Volunteer Centre Hackney, have also signed up to the Employers’ Pledge, as our commitment to supporting employees’ positive mental health in the workplace.

  • You can’t tell by looking at someone if they have a mental illness, and no matter what individuals’ issues are, people can still feel ashamed inside. So it takes projects like this, reaching people in the community to break down the barriers, and create awareness so people understand
    - VCH Change Together participant

  • Not only do I feel I’ve contributed to a really valuable project, it has also given me more confidence in myself and has had such a fundamental impact on the way I stigmatise myself
    - VCH Change Together participant


Change Together was funded by Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Big Lottery and Department of Health.


We worked in partnership with Peter Bedford Housing Association, Hackney Libraries, and other local community organisations to host events. 

I have made referrals for a couple of patients to Volunteer Centre Hackney, and I am happy to see them doing so well building up their skills in employment. Your service is doing some really valuable work. Thanks so much.
   – Support Worker, Enhanced Primary Care Liaison Team