Mental health charity in Portsmouth says it is forced to close due to lack of funding

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ONE of Portsmouth’s longest-running mental health charities says it will have to close after running out of money.

Portsmouth Mind said it has begun the process of winding up following a unanimous decision of members at its recent annual general meeting.

Speaking to The News, chairman Roger Batterbury said the charity would need £30,000 in order to run its peer support service, phone line and office.

He said: ‘It’s with great sadness we have had to begin the process of winding up leading to the closure of Portsmouth Mind.

‘This is a particularly difficult and emotional decision at a time when mental health is now firmly on the social and political agenda as Portsmouth Mind has reached its 50th anniversary.

‘In September the charity warned it would face closure unless funding was found by January.

‘Although receiving support of both Portsmouth MPs and an invitation to meet from the leader of Portsmouth City Council no significant funding has been achieved.’

Mr Batterbury said that although Portsmouth City Council offered the charity to bid from a pot of £500,000 voluntary and community sector transition, he was unable to meet Councillor Donna Jones to discuss this.

He added: ‘Donna Jones’ offer to consider access to a £500,000 pot of council funding was hindered by her total lack of availability, while council officers have been focused on savings and pressure to only fund on a contracted service basis with those charities who can save the council money, not save residents’ lives.’

However Cllr Jones said she did have communication with Mr Batterbury and advised him to speak to Councillor Luke Stubbs, who is in charge of health and social care.

She said: ‘I’m deeply disappointed that Roger didn’t respond to Cllr Stubbs, who contacted Mr Batterbury on my advice.

‘We encouraged them to apply for a grant, but we never heard anything back – we can’t just give money away.’

The closure means redundancy for Portsmouth Mind’s two part-time staff at its Fratton Community Centre office.

The charity said over the next month it will work with other organisations to transfer care for the 50 or so people it is currently supporting.