From Silence to Support: Vandu Languages’ Mental Health Project Funded by East Sussex County Council

  • 04/03/2019
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From Silence to Support: Vandu Languages’ Mental Health Project Funded by East Sussex County Council

In October 2022, Vandu Languages embarked on a remarkable initiative to provide informal mental health support for ethnic minorities residing in East Sussex.

This project received funding from East Sussex County Council, which recognised the value of our Bilingual Advocacy services for this important endeavour. Collaborating closely with two other organisations, The Links Project and Counselling Plus, we have supported communities and individuals to prevent the development of mental health issues. 

Additionally, we have been able to provide extra training to Bilingual Advocates, particularly in the area of Mental Health.


Story and Development of the Project

Over the span of several months, our team of Bilingual Advocates provided informal psychological support to community members in their native language. This service was offered free of charge, ensuring accessibility regardless of financial constraints. 

They addressed immediate concerns regarding community members' mental health, and additionally, they identified barriers that these people had accessing mental health services and resolving issues on their own accord.

In cases where community members required mental health support beyond our remit, they were referred to the most appropriate organisation and this handover was monitored by our Bilingual Advocates.

Initially designed as a six-month project, it was extended one more year due to its successful implementation and impact.

A lady from Syria, who had been receiving mental health support through this project, shared:

"I had a really difficult time. Sometimes, I would feel really upset because I didn’t have any support. I needed someone to talk to for my mental health."



The benefits have been palpable for all parties involved: 

- East Sussex County Council has demonstrated its commitment to enhancing the lives of diverse populations by offering essential services to the community.

- Community members have accessed mental health support for free in their native language.

- Bilingual advocates have gained invaluable experience and training while assisting individuals in need—especially in communities where such conversations are still considered taboo.

Over the past year, we have assisted over 165 individuals through our advocacy services, providing crucial support for their well-being, and dealing with any underlying issues which could potentially develop into further mental health problems.


Future Plans

The funding for this project concluded in March 2024, but our dedication to supporting local communities remains intact. Hence, we are seeking further funding to sustain this service for community members. We firmly believe in the significance of providing mental health support in one's native language, and our Bilingual Advocates will continue to play a key role in representing Vandu Languages and our shared vision.

A Cantonese Bilingual Advocate who has participated in the project, Chi Ling Chan, shared her opinions with us:

“It helps the community members to feel easy and relaxed to talk to the advocate about their personal problems [knowing there is] someone to listen to them.”

We would like to thank the organisations that have worked closely with us during this project, including Health in Mind, Eastbourne Sanctuary Café, Eastbourne, Hastings and Peacehaven Islamic Community Centres, Sussex Community Development Association, the Chinese community associations across Sussex, East Sussex Association of Autistic Children, Rother and Hastings Voluntary Action, 3VA, East Sussex Healthwatch, and Care for the Carers

If you know someone from an ethnic minority background living in East Sussex who could benefit from our services or if you are interested in supporting this project, please consider sending us an email to

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