Havering mental health charity ‘fears for future’ after £170k funding cut

Service user Hazel Gibbons with her two dogs Chelsea and Zach. She has suffered mental health proble

Service user Hazel Gibbons with her two dogs Chelsea and Zach. She has suffered mental health problems, but with the help of Havering Mind has been helped towards recovery - Credit: Archant

Funding cuts have sparked concerns for the future of a mental health charity that has been active in Havering for nearly 50 years.

Vanessa Bennett, chief executive of Havering Mind

Vanessa Bennett, chief executive of Havering Mind - Credit: Archant

Havering Mind has lost 42 per cent – or £170,000 – of its total funding following a decision by GPs to opt for a different service, which commissioners say will be more targeted and work actively with employers.

Havering Mind’s community wellbeing service, which loses funding at the end of the year, runs a number of activities including choir sessions and support groups, aimed at improving mental wellbeing and reducing social isolation.

The charity has launched a petition, which so far has 439 signatures, calling on commissioners to “consider the benefits” of its service.

Chief executive Vanessa Bennett said she realised this might be “an unsettling time” for service users and promised the charity would do its “utmost to ensure that individuals feel supported and informed”, with chairman Bob Antell adding it was “extremely unfortunate”.

Service user Hazel Gibbons said: “Mind has given me my life back. I’ve gone from not leaving my flat, sitting with the curtains closed, considering whether it’s all worth it, to meeting people that understand me and are able to offer me support.

“I’ve joined the choir. Singing has always been a passion of mine. When singing I forget my problems. My life seems so much better.”

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A spokesman for Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Havering CCG is committed to providing effective mental health recovery services for residents and is putting arrangements in place to ensure continuity of support for existing service users and provision for new referrals.”

He said the charity Richmond Fellowship had been given the contract following an open tendering process.

“The new service will be more targeted and actively work with employers. It follows best practice across the rest of the country so people will get the support they need to move into training or employment based on their interests and needs,” he added.

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