'We are desperate' - Charity founder issues plea for funding help
The co-founder of a mental health counselling service in west Suffolk has issued a desperate plea for funding so the charity can remain at its current premises.
Psychotherapist Glenda Roberts, who launched the Just Talk Campaign in Sudbury with Sharon Kendall and Christine Bassett in 2016, says the charity needs to raise £20,000 to be able to stay at its current home in Borehamgate shopping centre.
The campaign, which achieved charitable status in 2017 and offers support to people needing help with their emotional wellbeing, moved into its new premises in November last year.
The charity negotiated a ‘tenancy at will’ agreement with Babergh District Council, who own the building, which allowed Just Talk to operate out of the centre rent-free.
Now Babergh says it has been approached by a potential tenant prepared to pay market rent on a regular basis, and has “a duty to taxpayers”.
This means the charity will need to find the money to pay rent for a year, or face leaving its current home in three weeks’ time.
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Ms Roberts, who launched the charity following the suicide of four of her daughter’s friends, said the thought of having to move is “devastating” and could even spell the end of the charity.
“We’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into this place,” she said. “It’s something special we’ve got here and we are able to meet the needs of the community.
“We outgrew our previous home in Station Road due to demand for low-cost counselling and our governing body the (BACP) British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy visited us in January to see our good work.
“We created the first of its kind, a confidential service shop, which take referrals, plus a confidential counselling cafe. Having two more floors allows us to offer counselling in the more traditional setting.
“It’s just devastating to think we could lose what we set up. I’m not blaming the council, they have been very supportive and we want to pay our way as a charity.
“We are desperate. We can’t keep moving from home to home and mucking our clients about, we’ve got to find a way to pay our way.”
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John Ward, Babergh District Council leader, said: “We are very supportive of the work of Just Talk.
“We granted the charity an ‘tenancy at will’ for Unit 8 at the Borehamgate Centre last November. It was always clear that this would be for a temporary period – until a commercial tenant could be found or they had the funds to pay the full market rent.
“This temporary arrangement, as well as being beneficial to Just Talk, also meant we avoided having an empty unit in the centre – keeping the Borehamgate Centre busy and secure for neighbouring retailers.
“However, we do have a duty to taxpayers and we have been approached by a potential tenant that is prepared to pay market rent on a permanent basis.
“We are happy to consider relocating Just Talk to another vacant unit within the scheme – again on a temporary basis – and to work with the charity to see if and how they can be supported further.”