Sunderland mental health support group’s vital plea for help

A mental health support group which helps hundreds of people has had to stop taking on new clients.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 08:00 am
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 18:03 pm
Impact North-East chief executive Sharon Boyd.

Sunderland-based Impact North-East provides counselling, courses and practical support such as food for children, young people and families across the city.

With no regular grant funding, the organisation largely relies on profits from its contracts with local authorities and schools to ensure its community work remains free.

Impact's Sharon Boyd says the mental health support group needs up to £50,000 in support.

More than 1,600 people aged between five and 67 have benefitted from its bespoke support since its formation in 2013.

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Yet with public sector budgets tightening and some of Impact’s volunteers finding paid employment elsewhere, the community interest group has reluctantly decided against accepting new self-referrals.

Chief executive Sharon Boyd said: “We don’t really want to turn people away and you can tell how upset people are when you tell them we can’t support them at the moment.

“Schools and local authorities are under tremendous pressure with their budgets, I know that, and are sending their staff on training courses so they can deal with pupils’ mental health.

“But it is like asking a first aider to do heart surgery compared to what we can offer.”

Impact, based in Moor Terrace, in the city’s East End, currently employs eight part-time staff and nine volunteers.

Dealing with issues such as abuse and domestic violence, its qualified team offers life skills courses and stress management guidance as well as clothes, toiletries and sanitary products for people struggling financially.

It estimates it needs a cash injection of up to £50,000 to finance more part-time counsellors before it can accept new self-referrals.

One of the people it has helped through mental health issues, Corinne Kilvington, 37, who runs community theatre company Theatre Space, said: “I don’t do the type of telephone treatment the NHS offer so the one-to-one support Impact gave me was invaluable when I was on the point of crisis.

“They have made a massive difference to my life and I worry what will happen now to others who were in my situation.”

A fundraising evening is planned at the Stadium of Light on Friday, October 25, and a Go Fund Me page has been set up at www.gofundme.com/kavf6-make-an-impact-on-mental-health.

Details of Impact’s services and how to support its work are also available from (0191) 3670105.