MEMBERS of the Jewish community in Bury can now gain access to improved mental health support through the pandemic.

Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) is behind the move.

Jewish Action for Mental Health (JAMH) is supporting one of six pilot schemes across the region.

Jonny Wineberg, a trustee at Prestwich-based JAMH, said: "The funding has covered increased costs as we looked to meet a huge increase in demand for our befriending, mentoring, counselling and therapy services. Over 80 people have received support so far and this looks set to increase in the coming weeks and months.

"We are hugely grateful to GMHSCP and other funders for their support for our joint working."

Other organisations involved with the pilots are the community interest companies Manchester BME Network and Yaran Northwest, which support South Asian and Middle Eastern communities respectively.

The Wai Yin Society, working with the Chinese community, and the Caribbean and African Health Network (CAHN) are other beneficiaries.

Each of the schemes will run for four months.

A GMHSCP spokesman said: "The overall aim is to provide culturally sensitive support to people from BAME groups who are being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19."

Individuals can self-refer to the new services so no need to be referred by a GP or other health professional.

Health chiefs say the pilots will be monitored and evaluated over the coming months to judge whether they will be extended further.

Initial funding of £120,000 has come from a new Government fund earmarked for additional local spending in response to coronavirus.

Dr Sandeep Ranote, GMHSCP's medical executive lead, added: "The deep impact Covid-19 has had and continues to have on BAME communities has left many with worries, anxieties and loss.

"That’s why these new services are so important as they are specifically targeted to address the mental health and wellbeing needs of our diverse communities – and early indications show that they are already proving effective.”

“Our voluntary sector partners had been doing some amazing work in this area for some time so were well placed to step up and provide this additional support.

"I’m really proud that the partnership has played a part in making this happen. It’s a brilliant example of how we do things differently in Greater Manchester, with joint working and a vibrant and diverse voluntary sector.”