Charity in danger of closure

MENTAL health charity Woking Mind opened in 1979 – but now, 40 years on, there are fears it could close.

Based at Courtenay Road, Woking, the charity provide support to people with mental health difficulties.

Woking Mind’s team of Mandy Dhingra, Elle Wilks and Jill Bishop

Some of the 200 registered members have been accessing Woking Mind’s services for 33 years, and last year another 1,005 non-registered members received phone and email support.

The member’s mental health conditions range from mild anxiety and depression to bi-polar, autism, OCD, psychosis, schizophrenia and drug and alcohol problems.

“We don’t offer clinical services. We provide social, emotional and practical support. It’s about being the organisation that people can’t find anywhere else,” said Elle Wilks, chief executive of Woking Mind.

The activities provided at the centre between 10am and 2pm Monday to Wednesday weekly include arts and crafts, creative writing, current affairs, walking, film club, gardening club, gentle exercise and visual journaling.

Last year the charity was in peril after a 60% cut in funding, but permanent staff members Elle Wilks, Jill Bishop and Mandy Dhingra managed to secure funding from Woking Borough Council.

“We’ve bought ourselves six months – but if we don’t raise £50,000 we’ll have to shut down next year,” said Elle.

Without any financial support from the umbrella charity Mind, Woking Mind are entirely self-supported and rely on donations and corporate funding to run their services.

The charity has a number of summer plans to celebrate their anniversary, spread the word and raise money. On Wednesday 10 July they are holding a birthday party for all service users, staff, volunteers and trustees.

Alongside this, Woking Mind are launching “40 for 40”, an initiative encouraging people to take on a 40-themed challenge to raise £40. For example, Freedom Leisure Centre are running a one-hour/40-station circuit class on Saturday 4 May at 11am and Funmumsfitness are running a sponsored 40-minute exercise activity at Sportsbox Woking, also on 4 May.

Debenhams Woking are supporting the charity for the month of April and Woking Mind are asking local businesses to try turning £40 into £400.

On Wednesday 12 June the charity is holding their Annual General Meeting at the Surrey History Centre, with an open invitation, to celebrate the previous year and showcase work from service users.

But amid the plans for the future, the fact remains that Woking Mind desperately need to raise funds to meet the increasing demand on their services.

“It’s a difficult thing for people to do in the current climate, but with us you know that every pound will go towards providing services,” said Elle.

People can help the charity by donating via cheque or online, raising funds and awareness, volunteering and following them on Twitter and Facebook: visit @Wokingmind and facebook.com/Wokingmind/.

For the full story get the 25 April edition of the News & Mail

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