HMP Littlehey mental health scheme to close

Littlehey prison Cuts to NHS budgets mean a successful mental health project at Littlehey Prison has closed

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An award-winning prisoner mental health scheme in Cambridgeshire has closed after its funding ran out.

The Health Improvement Programme at Littlehey Prison was funded for one year on a pilot basis, and cost the NHS £12,000 to commission.

Prison staff and mental health workers said the scheme had a "significantly positive impact" on inmates.

Charity Hunts Mind, which ran the project, said a lack of further NHS funding meant the scheme had to close.

The charity was commissioned to deliver the one-year programme by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).

It worked with the trust's Mental Health In Reach team, with support from prison officers, to deliver 16 four-week therapy and education sessions to groups of eight prisoners at a time.

'Inspirational team'

The scheme was designed to help both adults and young offenders at the prison "face the painful truth of their life experience".

Therapy sessions included anger management and developing strategies to deal with the length of prison sentences.

Its success was recognised by NHS East which awarded the programme a prize for "Inspirational Teams".

Sarah Hughes, chief executive of Hunts Mind, said: "The impact of the project has been amazing but unfortunately funding limitations now mean it has come to an end."

The funds had been made available to the charity while the CPFT was putting together its own mental health in reach team for the prison.

However, Ms Hughes said the scheme had been so successful, she hoped to be able to secure further funding to safeguard its future.

The charity plans to apply to the European Social Fund which awards grants to organisations working with "excluded groups".

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