Wiltshire Publications

Wiltshire Mind to close

AWESTBURYsupport group for people with mental health issues will close later this year, having found it impossible to obtain core funding. 

The charity Wiltshire Mind, who run the Westbury You In Mind centre, will close all its information and support groups and counselling service in November.

Wiltshire Mind provides a friendly, safe place where people experiencing mental health issues can find support and friendship. The charity’s head office is based in Melksham and is run by a mixture of qualified staff and volunteers, while there are groups in eight locations across the county including a weekly group in Westbury.

As well as offering support from trained staff, the groups allow people to build friendship in their own town and support each other.

Carolyn Long of Wiltshire Mind said, “The size of our group varies, because we don’t have everyone every week, but we usually have 10 or 12. But people come and go – we have many more than that using the group throughout the year. We went to break the news in Westbury and it was very upsetting. For most of them it’s all they’ve got, what with the cuts in the NHS.

“All our groups are run by trained staff, so anybody can go, you don’t have to be referred. The idea of the group is to try and provide a very safe, non-judgemental place for people to meet. There’s a lot of support from the staff and tremendous peer support. Not everyone has the same problem, but they know what it feels like, and we hope to gradually build friendships within the group.”

Wiltshire Mind has been self-funded for just over two years, but representatives now say that without “substantial and sustainable core funding, the organisation has no other choice but to fold.”

Furthermore, Wiltshire Mind lost its contract with Wiltshire Council to deliver care to vulnerable people. The new contract was awarded to Alabaré, a Christian care and support group. Members of Wiltshire Mind say that the new contract “does not offer the vital group service, paramount for helping people who suffer from mental health services.”

James McGee from Wiltshire Mind said, “It’s a vital service. The group work that Wiltshire Mind provides helps people with mental health problems interact socially, acting as a stepping stone for other treatment.

“What will these vulnerable people do now without that group work? From what I can see of the new contact, there’s no group work included.”

A press statement prepared by Wiltshire Mind reads, “The charity has been self supporting for the last two years but has found it almost impossible to obtain core funding.

“Working in a rural area our core costs are high and can no longer be sustained and with no further funding on the horizon, the decision has had to be made that will close our services.

“Our clients have been informed that all information and support groups will close during the week beginning 12th of November, and the counselling service will also wind up then, with the plan to cease all operations by Friday 7th of December.

The Charity Commission and Companies House will also be informed.

“We are making every effort to signpost our service users to other organisations and will work to the end to ensure that we offer them all possible support. We are also ensuring that our staff, who have shown great dedication, are supported throughout this difficult time and in seeking future employment.

“We are still hoping even at this late stage that funds might be found and if enough funding can be obtained, we would be delighted to continue this valued and much needed service.”