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HELP Crisis Fundraising Campaign

As things are today South Lakeland Mind will begin the process of closure in early December, in the run-up to Christmas (about 6–8 weeks away). It would be a desperately sad moment, as we have been there for people in South Lakeland for more than 30 years. We now need people to be there for us.

You can help South Lakeland Mind by donating - online, by text or by cheque
(image courtesy of Colin Thompson)

If closure happens, a large number of people – some of the most vulnerable in our local community – will be left without support. Sadly, this support will not simply be picked up by other services waiting in the wings, because the provision is not there. We provide a lifeline.

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem this year. It is a shocking statistic.

We provide help, right here in our community. 25 volunteers for every member of staff.

Jonathan Ingram, Chief Officer, said: ‘During the time that I have been with Mind, colleagues and I have spoken to people contemplating suicide, people who are self-harming, people who have only just managed to make the call, people desperate to make a difference for someone they love, people in tears, people who are desperate for help. They have heard that they will speak to people who won’t judge them, people who will care and do whatever they can to make a difference.’

If you would like to find out more about our HELP campaign, or get involved, please get in touch with us on 01539 740591, or have a look at our website for the latest updates.

There will be an open meeting for anybody who would like to find out more about what is happening 2–3pm, Wednesday 22 October at Stricklandgate House in Kendal.

How to donate:

Text MIND05 £your amount to 70070 (e.g. MIND05 £10)

Cheques to: South Lakeland Mind, Stricklandgate House, 92 Stricklandgate, Kendal, LA9 4PU

We are also calling on people to come forward and help us raise money urgently.

On behalf of the trustees, staff, volunteers and all those who we work alongside, I hope that you will take this appeal for HELP for this outstanding local charity far and wide.

How did it come to this?

(1) Growth in use of our services, due to increased demand and lack of adequate alternative provision

(2) The difficulty in getting financial support for our core services (to which people are signposted by both adult social care and GPs)

(3) An increasingly harsh funding environment. There is less grant funding, less money from the local authority, less money from health - and mental health funding lags well behind that for physical illness at every level.

Nationally, the government has now made commitments about finally treating mental health with the same importance given to physical health, but the environment we have been working in has been one of ‘a widening gap and services which have failed thousands’ [Paul Farmer, CEO Mind, October 2014].

And more news (sadly still only in the pipeline): charities will be very important in the new mental health commissioning strategy for Cumbria, which is nearing completion. Again, this is about the future, not the work we do already to make up for failings in provision.

What we do

Information and signposting - This is the ‘way in’ to what we do, but also a valuable service in its own right. People will sometimes have the confidence to approach Mind, but not statutory services.

Counselling - Our counselling service has developed from a volunteer led service in 2013 to the professionally led service we now offer, with a range of types of counselling provided by volunteers, from person-centred to transactional analysis to cognitive behavioural therapy. It complements what is provided through First Step, an NHS service (which is excellent, but waiting lists are long and it isn’t right for everybody). The CEO of Mind, Paul Farmer, has been vocal in highlighting the need for more talking therapy to be made available.

Befriending - This links volunteers and people who need social support to help them reconnect with all life has to offer, sometimes coming from the depths of loneliness and clinical depression. We were awarded the Approved Provider Standard by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation in August, following external inspection. We received support from the Frieda Scott Trust to develop this service in 2013/14.

Drop-ins - These provide a safe place for people to meet in Kendal, Grange and Windermere, and are hugely valued by those who attend. They may be the only social contact for someone each week. We receive a small amount of funding for these from adult social care, on a variable basis each month calculated depending on attendance by individuals. This is valuable, but does not come close to covering our costs, and was reduced significantly earlier in the year. We also provide massage for relaxation at the Gateway centre on Gillinggate (linked with other local charities and Captain French GP surgery). This has proved valuable for people coping with anxiety and stress.

Staff and volunteers

South Lakeland Mind has just 4 staff, and in terms of hours this amounts to 2.7 full-time equivalents.

In addition, we support more than 65 volunteers in a variety of roles (including 21 counsellors and 24 befrienders). It is a setup which delivers outstanding value.

Volunteering can be life-changing in itself, but our volunteers are with us to make a difference for other people and deliver high quality services.

Take our Counsellors and Counsellors in Training. All are volunteers, are members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), work to the BACP Code of Conduct for Counsellors, have regular professional supervision and hold professional insurance.

We have a close relationship with counselling courses at The University of Cumbria, University of Central Lancashire and Salford University (student counsellors are in a four-way agreement between the university, their supervisor, themselves and South Lakeland Mind). All are assessed for skill level and pass appropriate ‘readiness to practice’ assessments in year 1 of their courses before they can volunteer with us. We currently have 21 counsellors actively volunteering with South Lakeland Mind clients.

Recent developments

Our offer is already strong, with health and social provision going hand in hand, and the community stepping up. We have an amazing 25 volunteers for each member of paid staff: it means we’re highly effective, and offer unmatched value through the dedication of everyone involved. And our campaigning work in reducing stigma and getting mental health into everyone’s conversations is there for us all.

Through the hard work of volunteers and staff, there has been considerable development of the charity in 2014. Last year, a generous donation meant that it was possible to invest for the future and, with some other local authority and grant funding, that means we now have today’s excellent local service as outlined above.

Recent highlights have included the development of innovative ‘outdoor and adventure therapy’ for our counselling service, new types of ‘peer support’, and becoming a Mentoring and Befriending Foundation approved provider.

Our role in the crisis campaign

We are doing all we can to bring in additional funding and take the charity back from the brink. We are, of course, talking to the local authority, talking to health services, and talking to grant funders. And we are calling on the public to come forward and help us raise money.

South Lakeland Mind is a positive force for change and innovation in our local mental health services. Its loss, with closure starting in December, would be deeply felt in our community.