‘This group must be saved - it allows people to feel they’re not alone’

APPEAL Reverend Mike Pye with from left, back row, Peter Heath, Barry Selway and Robert Webb with, front from left, Robert Evans, Jackie, Jane Cawthorne and John Brailey, inside All Saints Church.  Picture: Sarah Standing (121877-6533)
APPEAL Reverend Mike Pye with from left, back row, Peter Heath, Barry Selway and Robert Webb with, front from left, Robert Evans, Jackie, Jane Cawthorne and John Brailey, inside All Saints Church. Picture: Sarah Standing (121877-6533)

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A MENTAL health support group that has lost its council funding is appealing for people to help raise money to keep it going.

Known as the Wednesday Club, adults with mental health problems have been meeting at the All Saints Church, in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, for the past 15 years.

The free, informal, drop-in session sees around 26 people come along.

It gives people a chance to talk to others going through a similar experience to themselves and take part in games and activities.

The club was receiving a joint grant of £5,000 from Portsmouth City Council and NHS Portsmouth.

But since May the funding has been cut.

Volunteer Hilda Preston has been the club’s co-ordinator for three years.

She said: ‘It’s so good for those who come here.

‘They can meet their friends, have something to eat, and just feel like they’re not alone.’

The church’s reverend Mike Pye says there’s enough money to keep the club going this year, but fears for its future.

He said: ‘We need some money to run the facilities, a therapist and general admin things.

‘The volunteers that help run the club should be getting about £8,000 – so we’re asking for some support.

‘If people are alone with mental health issues then they can build up.

‘Coming here helps them raise their self esteem.

‘I’m applying for grants to see if we can get help with funding.’

The council said it has developed a new support service run by the Richmond Fellowship, so could not continue to fund the Wednesday Club.

Jackie Charlesworth, the council’s senior manager for adult social care said: ‘Working over 12 months with service users, carers, service providers, we reviewed adult mental health recovery services and developed a new, community-based support and recovery service run by the Richmond Fellowship.

‘We understand that people might be disappointed the Wednesday Club is no longer funded by the council, and although change can be unsettling we are confident what’s now in place will benefit everyone more.

‘In reviewing the service we found there were people whose situation had greatly improved and would in fact benefit from other opportunities in the community, which is a much better outcome for them.’