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Durham mental health centre bosses overjoyed at public support
THE future looks bright for a mental health centre after an overwhelming response to a public appeal for more support and volunteers.
St Margaret’s Centre had been quietly providing training for people recovering from mental illnesses from The Old School, on Margery Lane, Durham City, for 20 years until public funding cutbacks threatened its work.
A publicity and fundraising campaign was launched last summer and tens of thousands of pounds have since been donated or pledged to the cause.
The centre has won official charity status with Sainsbury’s at the Arnison Centre, Pity Me, and a North-East businesswomen’s network and will also benefit from this November’s Durham Rotary Club charity swimathon.
The City of Durham Freemen donated £7,000, the Shakespeare Temperance Trust massively increased its giving and smaller donations have flooded in, including from a woman who studied in Durham in the 1960s, now lives in Germany and read about the appeal online.
As a result, a £37,000 project to install new toilets is underway and should be completed by Christmas.
More than 200 people also attended an open day, energy firm npower sent volunteers to work the facility’s allotments and the County Durham Community Foundation is providing £9,000 to fund a new self management programme.
Centre manager Rob Chatwin said: “It’s been great. We are changing as a service because it’s extremely difficult to get local authority funding due to the cuts.
“We’re having to diversify our service and open more to the community. We’re constantly looking for funding to run things we have identified as a need in the community.”
St Margaret’s Centre, which is controlled by representatives of various Durham churches, costs around £200,000-a-year to run. Activities include woodwork, upholstery, horticulture, crafts, textiles and computing.
But most of its users do not pay for the service due to their ill health or financial circumstances and its public funding for the year 2014-15 is yet to be decided.
In future, Mr Chatwin would like to run mental health training for companies on a commercial basis and secure a minibus for transporting users.
For more information or to offer financial or volunteering help, visit stmargaretscentre.co.uk or call 0191-3848100.
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