The Willow Tree Group

Blandford Mental Health Support Group


As part of our ongoing fund raising we have been in the press. We have captured the articles below.

Forum Focus September 2014
Angry backlash as key support services face closure
THE closure at the end of August to two support services in Blandford for those with mental health issues has prompted a campaign to secure funding to keep them open. Users of Positive Approach drop-in shop in Tabernacle Walk and the Wednesday Group of Castleman Bungalow have been devastated to learn that the two facilities will no longer be supported by Dorset County Council.
Stewart Randall said he was a drop-in user of Positive Approach which was an important non-clinical place for people to go for support, with staff who had been very helpful to him and other users. "I know I am not the only one to be upset at the closer of these places so if anyone out there can help us to stay open, please can you help us". Another Service user in his 60s, Barrie Smith, said the life-changing support offered by the two facilities saved the Nation Health Service money, since without it those with mental issues would need to see their GPs more often.
"My doctor and psychiatrist are very supportive of me but cannot fill the loss of this valuable Blandford amenity. I have contacted my local MP but only received a short note saying he would look into this, nothing more. As time ticks by, we are all feeling the strain now. Blandford has always been home to me, but the callous way this support is being removed makes you wonder if people at the top really care about the common folk".
Amanda Udale, estates manager at Hanover Court in Blandford, said: "one of my residents is a service user of Positive Approach and the Wednesday Group. Both service are a huge support to residents of Blandford with mental health issues and those involved need help to find other income sources to keep the facilities going."
The tender for service in the community across Dorset has been awarded to Rethink, a national mental health charity which has no plan to maintain the Blandford facilities and similar facilities in Sherborne. The outgoing service provider Dorset Mental Health Forum did not tender for the contract.
Manager Florence Spencer, one of three staff employed by the Dorset Mental Health Forum offered redundancy with a total of 30 years service between them said "The new service does not include permanent premises where users can meet and integrate with the public which offer a social prescription to people. The long running Peer support group on Wednesdays costs £4000 a year and the Positive Approach Centre of Wellbeing costs £7500 a year.
The local Community Mental Health Team, based at the Milldown Unit in Blandford are shocked and deeply saddened at the news that will no doubt mean more pressure on the NHS, with ore unwell people attending their GP surgeries and using NHS mental health services.
She said an anonymous donation had been received to keep the Wednesday Group going for another month, and a donation of £1000 has been received towards the cost of Positive Approach. But we have to vacate Tabernacle Walk, and are now looking for both funding and premises from which to operate."
Anybody who would like more information or to help can call Mrs Spencer on 07979 437076.
8 Dec 2014 - 08:35 by barrie
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