Mental health centre to cut services
A MENTAL health drop-in centre - described as a “lifeline” by its users - must slash services because of a funding shortfall.In the coming financial year, Colchester Mind's Oak House will not receive a £42,000 bonus payment from the Joint Mental Health Commissioning Team, despite receiving it this year.
A MENTAL health drop-in centre - described as a “lifeline” by its users - must slash services because of a funding shortfall.
In the coming financial year, Colchester Mind's Oak House will not receive a £42,000 bonus payment from the Joint Mental Health Commissioning Team, despite receiving it this year.
So from April 1, the Maldon Road centre will offer its drop-in lunch only four days a week, currently offered daily, and have to close entirely on Saturdays.
Dan Kessler, Colchester Mind director, said: “As far as I know, there's nowhere else people will be able to go. That's the impact.
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“It's a tough year for the mental health economy in the East of England where the NHS trusts are £175million in debt.
“In the past Oak House has been able to get a little bit of extra funding if the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) hadn't spent all their budget, but central government has said that the PCTs must come into financial balance this year so it is no longer available. Others have lost out too.”
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He said the charity was trying to find other sources of funding and had put a tender into the National Lottery.
Sally Charnock, Oak House volunteer, added: “Sometimes people fall through the net of the statutory sector. The Oak House service fills a gap that, without sufficient funding, will be empty.”
The centre, which supports anyone experiencing emotional problems, sees 2,200 people every three months. Mental health can deteriorate rapidly and the Mind centre offers vital liaison with other services, sometimes preventing hospital admission or arranging it when necessary.
It also provides a place to meet people and to have a nutritious meal, which the centre's members help to make and serve. There is help with practical problems, such as filling out forms, or taking medication.
Marika Frost, Oak House social centre co-ordinator, said: “We've had three birthdays this week so today I made a cake and we sang happy birthday. This is the sort of thing they'll miss; the homely family drop-in caring side. We all need to feel special sometimes.
“The members are finding it very hard. To lose Saturday is hurting a lot for them, there are very few places open on that day.”
Centre user, Marissa Lewin, said: “I feel passionately that the day centre brings people back into the community, it doesn't keep them away.
“I'm not being overdramatic when I say that it's a lifeline for me, it saved my life and it stopped me from being isolated. I feel we're being let down by the cutbacks.”
A spokeswoman for Essex Mental Health Joint Commissioning Team, which includes representatives from the PCTs, said: “The extra funding Colchester Mind received last year was one-off, non-recurring funding.
“However, there has been no reduction in the core funding that Colchester Mind receives from Essex Mental Health Joint Commissioning and we are keeping the situation under review.”