Is spring in the air?
These are pretty bleak times for many 3rd sector organisations, and even more so for those who depend on them. Most Local Authority and health budgets for 2011/12 have now been finalised, and in Solent Mind we are working through the impact of cuts in Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton. You can see elsewhere on the website the services affected, as well as some really important "business as usual" messages across most of our work.
The response of all of our staff faced with the prospect of redundancy while needing to support people as services have closed has been simply fantastic. And the way partner agencies and those who use our services have responded has been overwhelming. I now have a stack of stories, anecdotes, statements, letters of thanks and letters of anger in my office, testament to the vital and inspirational work of Mind IT and the employment services over the years.
It’s been a gloomy winter, but spring may just be on its way. The new iTalk service in Hampshire is really taking off. It is a priority of ours to offer therapies to people with mild or moderate mental health issues – the 1 in 4 as well as the 1 in 100 who need more intensive support. Through iTalk we can now provide talking therapies to – literally – thousands of people every year across southern Hampshire. And our home-based "Floating" Support service in Southampton, incorporating the roll out of personalised budgets, is well under way too.
Some charities may well not survive the next few years, but other charities are realising that if we join forces we can protect the best of what we do. We were delighted to have been selected by the trustees of Basingstoke Advocacy Service – BAS - to take over their advocacy services in the north of Hampshire. The transfer agreement was signed in February. BAS has a great reputation, and we’re looking forward to building on their legacy over the coming years. On a personal note, I’ve really enjoyed working with John Dickinson, Chair of BAS, who has kept the BAS show on the road over the last few months.
Two other inspirational characters we’ve been working with , now making waves in Hampshire about the closure of the Surestart Centre, are Catherine Ovenden and Kate Reynolds. Worth remembering that mental health services come in unexpected shapes and sizes, including through Surestart. Check out SOCC on http://www.socchampshire.org.uk/get-involved.htm.