Mental health charity meeting at the Kernos Centre in Sudbury. Pictured from left: Babergh District Council deputy leader Deborah Saw, Kernos Centre clinical director Chris Boatwright, Kernos Centre finance director Peter Brown, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, Bridge Project chair of trustees Paul Mackman, and Sudbury mayor Jan Osborne.
Mental health charities in Sudbury have shared the challenges facing the local voluntary sector, at a meeting to review how it can be funded sustainably over the long term.
Representatives from the Kernos Centre counselling charity and The Bridge Project social enterprise met with politicians to discuss their social impact within the town, and their difficulties with securing appropriate funding.
Attendees agreed on the importance of early intervention for those struggling with their mental health, and advocated for increased investment from the NHS into local charities fulfilling this need.
Among those in present were Sudbury mayor Jan Osborne, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, Babergh District Council deputy leader Deborah Saw, and the council’s assistant manager for community grants and development, Laura Butters.
Cllr Osborne said: “Our voluntary organisations do a fantastic job, but need all the support available if they are to continue to help our residents.
“I was pleased to be able to initiate a meeting with our MP, and I hope that these meetings lead to productive outcomes.”
The Kernos Centre, which hosted the meeting at its base in Friars Street, revealed that it receives no direct funding from the NHS, despite receiving around 90 referrals from health service each year.
The organisation has pledged to never turn anybody away who needs help, even if they cannot afford it – but it argues the work its counsellors do should be acknowledged financially by the NHS.
Peter Brown, finance director at the Kernos Centre, said: “I felt that the meeting was a very positive step, in trying to move forward the debate over gaining more effective support for smaller charities in the field of mental health.
“The support of everyone at the meeting was clear and most welcome. Kernos has always been a strong advocate of early intervention.
The Bridge Project, which provides residential care, training and work experience for adults with learning disabilities, echoed this sentiment.
Paul Mackman, the enterprise’s chairman of trustees, said: “To have the backing of our local MP, town mayor, and district council during this particularly challenging time is testament to their commitment to grassroots charities.”
Following the meeting, Mr Cartlidge hailed the “transformative” impact that charities like Kernos and The Bridge Project had made on the local community – but acknowledged the strains that the cost-of-living crisis have placed on the voluntary sector.
“Early intervention from the local voluntary sector is the key to preventing an individual from needing more extensive and complex mental health care within the NHS,” added Mr Cartlidge. “It is only right that they are remunerated fairly for their contribution.
“As such, I will continue to campaign for our invaluable local voluntary sector to receive more direct funding and investment opportunities from the NHS.”
Published in the Suffolk Free Press.