A charity hosted an event in Ilford to encourage people to open up about mental health as the country unlocks after the Covid lockdown.

Supporting Humanity, which was set up during the pandemic, ran its third Let’s Talk In The Park event on Sunday afternoon in Valentines Park, with Ilford South MP Sam Tarry appearing in support.

Initially launched to provide food and support to Ilford and Newham communities at the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the group has expanded into other east London boroughs and has moved towards tackling what they believe is a burgeoning mental health crisis.

The charity recently launched a mental health phone line to offer support and hope that the park events will raise awareness of the service.

Head of operations Tahreem Khan said: “The purpose of our Let’s Talk In The Park event is to bring emotional support and wellbeing to the public.”

Ms Khan said that after a slow start, they are now receiving a large number of calls from people from many different ages and backgrounds.

She added that the charity’s campaign was targeting people from ethnic minorities, saying that the topic of mental health is often stigmatised in such communities.

The group’s next goal is to secure a permanent premises from Redbridge Council, through which they hope to provide social activities, face-to-face mental health services and support for the homeless.

Mr Tarry said: “I’m fully backing them to see whether we can get a permanent base for them, so that they can base here in Redbridge, because I know the work they do in Ilford could be hugely expanded.

“As a member of parliament, my office is inundated every day with loads of people in really dire situations, often mental health is part of that, loneliness is part of that.”

The charity's chief executive Idris Patel, who was recently awarded a British Empire Medal for his work during the pandemic, said: “There is a major need for mental health at the present moment, across the whole country, it is increasing day-by-day since Covid has happened.

“Unless people like Supporting Humanity stand up and try to help, the country will be in major trouble because there is only so much the NHS can do.”