Healthy Minds Recovery & Support Service has been running for over 8 years, offering a wide range of support to help people achieve and maintain a better state of emotional health and wellbeing. We have several peer support groups throughout Calderdale, along with courses, workshops and advice drop-in sessions. Around 4000 people have benefited from this valuable support over the years and over 300 are currently supported by the team. Recovery & Support has become recognised as an important element in Calderdale’s mental health “system”, as an alternative to, or in addition to, NHS and Council mental health services.
Despite this, we have not been able to secure ongoing funding for Recovery & Support and we have no choice but to close the service at the end of September. This affects both the Upper Valley and Halifax-based Recovery & Support teams.
This is a huge loss to all of us at Healthy Minds, to the staff team who have invested so much energy in all the service has achieved over the years, to Calderdale's mental health services and, above all, to people who are supported by the service. The team has built a presence in some communities that helps bring people together and keeps people safe. We believe that Recovery & Support still has a vital role in Calderdale but we cannot continue to fulfil this role without funding. It is frustrating to be forced to close a service at a time when we can see that people need more emotional support.
The charity sector is facing difficulties in the wake of the Covid pandemic: funders’ priorities have changed and there is more competition than ever for less funding, coinciding with increased demand and pressure on services in the NHS as well as charities. Over the past two years, we’ve submitted funding applications totalling over £800,000 but few have been successful in the current climate. We’ve been speaking with funders and Council and NHS commissioners over the past 18 months, warning that the Recovery & Support service was at risk without secure investment; we’ve argued that the service plays a role in local, regional and national strategies on improving mental health and wellbeing, supporting people affected by floods, and helping people cope with life challenges like discrimination and poverty – but none of that has translated into the financial support we and others in the charity sector need to keep vital services going.
Although the loss of Recovery & Support will affect people, Healthy Minds is still here and our other services will remain available for the foreseeable future as they have separate funding streams. Between now and September, the team will work with people who come to Recovery & Support to use the resilience and skills they have gained, and connect them with alternative support in Healthy Minds and other organisations where possible. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that anyone who needs it can get support.
In the short term, we plan to increase availability of Safespace so that people can have one to one emotional support during the day as well as in evenings. We will explore the possibility of supporting trained volunteers to continue some groups and activities. We can’t say for sure what will happen next but we want to try to find ways to continue what we can or to rebuild this valuable support in some fashion. Of course, the next steps depend on having the resources to do anything and we really need people to get behind us to help figure out what those next steps could be.
Healthy Minds’ Chief Officer is involved in ongoing work across West Yorkshire to promote and strengthen the role of organisations like ours in health and other strategies, to gain more recognition and support for what we do. The changes this will achieve won’t happen in time to save Recovery & Support but will hopefully create a more stable footing for charities and community groups in the long-term.
Healthy Minds is all about finding ways through challenges and we’re facing one ourselves at the moment – but we remain as committed as ever to providing support for everyone in Calderdale.