Concerns over cuts to mental health services

THE CLOSURE of valuable services which provide support for local people with mental health issues has been met with dismay by its users.

Weekly art classes and a drop-in service provided by Hull and East Yorkshire MIND, which runs services from the Old Parcels Office at Bridlington Railway Station, will go after the charity lost funding.

The current services come to an end today, March 31, which will see the three staff who are currently available at the Bridlington offices leaving.

The charity has recently won a tender from East Riding of Yorkshire Council to provide a mental health service for the next three years, but will now do so on a budget reduced by 20%, meaning office closures in Goole and Beverley and a reduced presence in Bridlington.

Greg Aitken, CEO of Hull and East Yorkshire MIND, said: “Changes to our Mental Health Promotion service across the whole of East Riding are the result of grant funding coming to an end. We were aware of this but have been unable to secure replacement funding to date.

“From the office bases in Beverley and Goole, that we are now closing, and the Old Parcels Office, staff provided a telephone information line. We will be launching a dedicated number for this service to continue very shortly.

“We have no plans to close the Old Parcels Office, as we have done to the staff office bases in Goole and Beverley.

“The 10 staff posts in the East Riding have been reduced to 6, and of the 4 posts lost 2 were frontline staff.

“I expect the impact on the people currently being supported and using our services to be minimal and have written to them explaining the situation and how they can contact us.

“Access to our services should not be significantly affected as most people are referred to us from other services or contact us by phone. Anyone can contact us on 01482 240200.”

The Old Parcels Office received lottery funding for arts activities until 2008 and since then has been used as a base to provide Mental Health Promotion in the Bridlington and Driffield areas.

An art class ran by volunteers between 1pm and 4pm on Thursday’s, plus a Friday afternoon social group which is held between 1pm and 4pm at Applegarth Court, will still be available.

Volunteers who have helped run MIND services have expressed their concern at the closures and the long term future of the centre.

In a combined letter to the Free Press, four of the volunteers said: “We are worried about how individuals and their carers access the support as they have done in the past, when the office is closed.

“The loss of social facilities will lead to isolation, which will further compound mental health issues.”

A spokesman for East Riding of Yorkshire Council said: “No funding has been withdrawn from Hull and East Yorkshire MIND.

“Tenders were invited for provision of a mental health promotion service to cover the East Riding of Yorkshire. Hull and East Yorkshire MIND was the successful bidder.

“The tender required the provider to directly provide a range of courses and group activities across the full East Riding area to improve skills, confidence, motivation and the self esteem of people with mental health issues.”