Projects Supported by the Accessibility Fund

In line with our charitable aims we support training, activities or initiatives which widen access to, and participation in, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and practices. Our Accessibility Fund grants are given on the expectation of clear impact, outcomes and/or key learnings. Applications to the Accessibility fund are reviewed by Oxford Mindfulness Foundation Board members, OMC staff and external advisers.

The seven projects supported in 2017 were:

Andy Phee, Pentonville Prison Project
Amount awarded: £2150
This project was awarded funding from the Accessibility Fund 2016 to enable MBCT courses to be offered to staff from several London prisons, and to remand prisoners in HMP Pentonville experiencing mental health problems. You can read an update on their work so far here. Now they aim to expand on the practices and reach more prisoners, by offering more mindfulness training (taught pro-bono by Mark Williams) and course books.

Tim Anfield, Mindful Families
Amount awarded: £3930
The Mindful Families project was founded in February 2016 with the aim of enabling more people to access mindfulness, principally parents and children living in deprived areas. MF have already delivered 14 mindfulness courses in schools and eight Family Mindfulness sessions with parents and children in schools (using MiSP curricula, based on MBCT). The current project aims to build evidence and case studies to demonstrate the value of providing mindfulness training to parents as part of a whole school-community approach to mindfulness. See their full report here.

Ariana Faris, Mindfulness without Borders
Amount awarded: £5660
Ariana Faris was awarded funding from the Accessibility Fund 2016, to run pilot programmes in Cardiff and London delivering MBCT adapted for refugee communities who may have experienced complex trauma. So far all feedback has been extremely positive – read a full report here. The current project will draw on learning from the first phase and continue to widen access to mindfulness practice and skills for women in this population.

Jo Grant, MBCT course for people with recurrent depression in a second high deprivation area in Bristol
Amount awarded: £3890
The Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine was awarded Funding from the Accessibility Fund 2016, to pilot a project offering MBCT to local residents with recurrent depression in Southmead estate in Bristol, where MBCT is not available in NHS services. Evaluation has shown that the programme was successful, with participants reporting reduced active depression, improved wellbeing and functioning – read a full report here. The current project will build on this success, expanding into Filwood, a ward in another deprivation hotspot, where there would otherwise be barriers to accessing MBCT.

Claire-Louise Symonds, The Mindful Parenting Community Project
Amount awarded: £4000
This project was also awarded Funding from the Accessibility Fund 2016, to pilot specialised MBCT courses for perinatal parents with mental health problems, parents from a deprived area, and adoptive parents. Building on the success of this programme, MPCP sought further funding to provide and evaluate MBCT for two new hard-to-reach parenting groups: fathers and foster parents. They also wish to continue their work with adoptive parents.

Kate Stewart, Bringing Mindfulness to Young People in Supported Housing
Amount awarded: £1070
Kate Stewart was awarded funding from the Accessibility Fund 2016 for a three-stage project to train, support and empower front-line housing workers supporting vulnerable people, and the young people that they support. Now in the first stage, they have delivered an MBCT-derived course to front-line workers who provide housing and personal support to 16-24 year-old care leavers.

They requested supplementary funding to expand the first stage and deliver a second intervention, as they believe that more groundwork is needed before they can begin work with the young people themselves.

Beth Bolitho, Building mindfulness practice with disadvantaged young people in the London Borough of Hackney
Amount awarded: £5434
Since April 2016 Hackney CVS youth team have been working to support young people, particularly those of African and Caribbean backgrounds, to develop the skills and abilities to navigate and thrive in the adult world. This project aims to offer and evaluate the provision of an MBCT-derived course to disadvantaged young people facing a number of barriers to achieving their potential, such as low confidence, low key skills, drugs/alcohol misuse, offending histories and difficult family life, and who are at risk of developing mental health issues.


The following projects were awarded funding in 2016:

Mindfulness without Borders – Refugees

£4507 was awarded to Ariana Faris at Mindfulness without Borders to support a pilot project providing mindfulness-based courses for stress reduction and trauma relief to Arabic- and Farsi-speaking asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. The project is supported by the Welsh Refugee Council, Refugee Trauma Initiative and several London based refugee organisations. The pilot is being run in Cardiff and London, both of which support large numbers of refugees. They are also producing a website with guided practices and information in Farsi (few resources and information exist in this language), and links to existing resources in Arabic.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

MBCT in area of deprivation, Bristol

£3932 was awarded to Julia Wallond at the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine, which with the Southmead Development Trust is piloting and evaluating a one-off MBCT course to residents  of the Southmead estate in Bristol, with recurrent depression. This estate is a deprived area where locals report high rates of depression, and where MBCT is not available as a relapse prevention approach. So far, local people have completed the courses, and initial feedback has been very positive. Now they are looking to see how they can build on this momentum and continue ongoing practice within the community. Long-term, they hope that their evaluation will be used as evidence to advocate for MBCT services within Southmead, and similar areas of deprivation.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

The BeingWell project, Tower Hamlets

£3990 was awarded to Dr Sherylin Thompson at The BeingWell project, which is piloting and evaluating MBCT courses for patients being discharged from secondary to primary mental health services in Tower Hamlets. Here, mental health services have very limited funding compared to other London boroughs. This work will crucially widen their access to high quality mental health care, and has the potential to reduce patient returns to inpatient care. Doctoral psychology student Louise Norhana is running the project, supervised by Dr Trisha Patel at the University of East London. The project proposal has been finalised, and they are about to start recruitment of 36 patients with depression, anxiety and/or psychosis.

Prison staff and inmates

£4000 was awarded to Andy Phee at the Pentonville Prison Mindfulness Project, which aims to introduce, develop, and support the use of MBCT with staff from three prisons, along with prisoners, over two years. Research suggests that prison staff have high levels of job stress, and burnout (Finney et al., 2013), while half of the UK prison population suffer from anxiety and depression (Ministry of Justice, 2013). Importantly, prisoners suffering from these conditions have higher rates of reoffending (Ministry of Justice, 2012). MBCT could play a crucial role in improving the mental health of staff and prisoners, with knock-on benefits to society.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

Supported Housing – young people and front line staff

£3580 was awarded to Kate Stewart at the Bringing Mindfulness to Young People in Supported Housing project, which trains, supports, and empowers front-line housing workers and the young people that they support. This collaborative strategy aims to develop a sustainable and realistic approach to delivering MBCT to vulnerable young people, who have had little or no opportunity to develop coping mechanisms, emotional regulation, self-compassion or resilience. For them, mindfulness could be a life-changer.

Dementia Carers and Patients

£3937 was awarded to Catharine Arakelian to introduce mindfulness to 160 caregivers and 64 people living with dementia in residential care homes, and for creating guidelines for teaching mindfulness to this population. There is a widespread belief that people with dementia cannot ‘learn’, and are therefore not encouraged to assist their own care. Caregivers in dementia homes are emotionally engaged in their work but can neglect their own self-nurture, resulting in emotional overload, anxiety and stress. Both of these groups experience significant barriers to accessing mindfulness, and might gain benefit from mindfulness teaching. We look forward to learning of the impact of mindfulness on the life of dementia sufferers and their carers, and seeing the guidelines produced to continue on this great work.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.

Mindful Parenting

£4600 was awarded to The Mindful Parenting Community Project, who are delivering a range of mindfulness training courses, workshops, and information for parents and professionals working with families and children in the Bristol and Avon area. Specifically they will focus on 3 vulnerable groups with barriers to access: perinatal parents with mental health problems, parents from a deprived area, and adoptive parents. This group of vulnerable and disadvantaged families would not otherwise have access to mainstream mindfulness courses, although they have the potential to improve resilience, parenting, and positive engagement in the community. We look forward to seeing how mindfulness could produce a virtuous cycle of benefit for parents and then their children.

Read an update on how the project is progressing.