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There was praise for the work of a community mental health initiative by the Health Secretary who pledged to improve services during a visit to the Black Country.

Mr Javid said he had wanted to visit a community-based initiative helping people with mental health challenges, and said hearing from the service users helped him to look at what the Government can do to help.

He said: “The African Caribbean Community Initiative has been here for decades helping local people and I wanted to see how they’re doing, so it’s been lovely to meet some of the members and patients and from themselves about how it has transformed their lives.

Sajid Javid was in Wolverhampton to visit the African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) on Newhampton Road West as part of Mental Health Awareness week and to see the work of the initiative in action.

The Health Secretary met with executive director Alicia Spence, projects development manager Patricia Barrett and other members of the initiative and even took the opportunity to meet service users and join them in a game of pool in their common room.

“They recognise that, first of all, there is lots of support that’s been provided directly to communities, either directly through the support groups or through the NHS, but also there’s recognition that we can do more as Government to improve services.
“My department has an obvious role in tackling mental health, but other departments have an important role to play and the message I want to deliver today on that is that is why we are developing a 10-year cross-government mental health strategy.”

Mr Javid said there was a call for evidence around the strategy and asked for more people to contribute towards the strategy, describing the ACCI as an excellent example of a place that can contribute to the strategy and for people to go to.

He said: “This particular community initiative has been going on for more than 40 years and the service is provided locally, which has been transformative and, most importantly, helps people with prevention and stopping what could be a small problem from getting bigger.

“The funding going into the strategy will be important, with an extra £2.3 billion at least a year going into mental health services across England by 2024 and bringing forward legislation to update the Mental Health Act to change the outdated statutes.”

Mr Javid also spoke about Covid and the Government strategy around it, saying that he believed the strategy of “Living with Covid” was starting to pay off.

He said: “I think we are showing the world how to live with Covid and that’s for many reasons, not least our vaccine programme, which is one of the first in the world and we now have 90 per cent of people having had the vaccine.
“We also announced a few months ago the spring booster programme for more than 75,000 people, so those in care homes, those who are immunosuppressed, so it’s important that we all keep playing our bit.
“The best way to do this is to make sure that if you are eligible to take the vaccine as you will be making a big difference for you and your community, as well as remaining vigilant and remembering the need to be vigilant.”