The coronavirus outbreak has had a huge impact on all of us. Many of us are feeling anxious or worried about how the virus could affect our lives, as well as our loved ones. For myself and my fellow Trustees, the pandemic has also caused us some concern over money matters. Just like innumerable small charities across the country, South Kent Mind is facing something of an economic crisis.
Many people think we receive our funding through national Mind. We do not. We are part of the Mind network of mental health charities, but we are a completely independent and self-sufficient organisation. We usually rely on the income from our two charity shops, in Hythe and Cheriton, to fund the cost of running our headquarters in Folkestone and some of the people who work there and help deliver our services. But without that income we are currently like a car with an empty fuel tank, running on petrol fumes.
Despite that we are determined to keep going, because the need for our services hasn’t gone away just because everything around us has closed down. In fact, the need for mental health support services has grown, with a widespread increase in stress, anxiety and depression resulting from the lockdown. So we have reconfigured our services to continue to provide support, advice and information online and by telephone, rather than face-to-face. Our funding has reduced, but our costs have not.
Our staff have been fantastic in bringing about this complete change in approach to supporting people with mental health challenges in south Kent. They have adapted brilliantly, ensuring an almost seamless continuity of services during this extraordinary period. My fellow Trustees and I are extremely grateful for their dedication and commitment to ‘keeping the show on the road’.
Meanwhile, the Trustees have been concentrating on ensuring we secure the funding to support our staff. Around half of our frontline work is funded by Kent County Council through our contract with Porchlight, and we are extremely thankful to both organisations for their continued support. We have also been given grants from Dover District Council, Folkestone & Hythe District Council, the Kent Community Foundation, national Mind and the Charities Aid Foundation. In addition, we continue to receive donations from individual well-wishers, including an extremely generous gift of £1,000, which is incredible.
These are difficult times for everyone, but especially so for people experiencing mental health challenges. We – and they – are grateful for your continuing support.