Vulnerable people in Portsmouth suffer fresh setback as another mental health service faces uncertain future

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VULNERABLE people in Portsmouth have been dealt a fresh blow as another support service they rely on faces an uncertain future.

Portsmouth Interaction, which helps people with mental illnesses get healthy and do exercise, is currently run by the council.

Mental health is a big problem in this city. There are people not getting access to services because of the cutbacks.

Portsmouth Interaction user Michael Locke

But it was agreed as part of next year’s budget that the council would look to find another organisation to reduce costs.

The new provider would receive £50,000, with £10,000 being taken off every year until the council no longer puts money in.

The move comes after Portsmouth Mind, one of the city’s longest-running mental health charities, began the process of winding down before Christmas after running out of money.

Portsmouth Interaction user Michael Locke, who has received its help for the last three years, is concerned what will happen.

The 45-year-old, of Lake Road, said: ‘There’s nothing else left for people with mental health problems if it goes. Portsmouth Mind has already gone.

‘This is the last lifeline for me and other people down there.

‘Mental health is a big problem in this city.

‘There are people not getting access to services because of the cutbacks.’

Chris Richards, the council’s community projects officer, said: ‘The Interaction Service provides valuable support and activities to people with mental health problems and we believe it is important this continues.

‘Budget reductions in recent years have meant the service has had to be subsidised by other community services budgets within the council, but this is no longer possible as their funding has also been reduced.

‘The best way we can sustain the service is by working with the voluntary sector as these organisations can access additional funding that isn’t available to the council.

‘We are looking for a provider who can offer a similar service to the existing one; at the moment we’re seeking expressions of interest from organisations with the aim of having a new provider in place for 1 April 2016.’