Photograph: MCHWF.

A local mental health charity is putting out a call for aid as the impact of coronavirus on services for the borough’s most vulnerable continues to make itself felt.

Mind in the City, Hackney & Waltham Forest (MCHWF), which has worked since 1981 to ensure those with mental health problems living locally receive support and respect, will be stopping all of its face-to-face services by the end of the week.

It has now launched a crowdfunder as it seeks to raise £15,000 to try to ensure its services, which include those tailored to welfare rights, education, employment, training, and BAME and LGBTQ+ people,  can continue and those in need can access them.

A spokesperson for Mind said: “Obviously this is something that nobody would have been able to predict. A lot of our services traditionally we see people face to face, and that’s the way that we’ve operated for over 30 years.

“People are finding this situation quite a strain on their mental health, and now is the time that we are not going to abandon those who use our services, which now than ever are going to become all the more important.

“We’re having to quite quickly invest a lot of money into digital solutions to these issues, and a lot of our biggest fundraising events that we rely on for income have been cancelled, so a lot of our funding is now really uncertain.”

The spokesperson added that the organisation has seen a record number of referrals over the last few days.

The main part of MCHWF’s investment is understood to be aimed to setting up online counselling services, though the organisation is also moving to provide every level of service possible under the current circumstances for those without access to the internet.

Many of Mind’s clients are elderly and are now self-isolating under government guidance, and with dedicated social group for older people Silver Saturdays now not being held, the charity is calling to check in with attendees to make sure they have someone to speak with.

The charity is also drawing up lists of its clients who are traditionally isolated already or people who are financially insecure, to make sure that there is targeted support available for them.

All of the organisation’s training services are currently still being run, with advice available for those living with anxiety throughout the outbreak and those claiming Universal Credit (UC).

Speaking on the UC support offered by Mind, service user Andrew said: “Imagine having someone that will fight your corner with you when you’re too shaken to represent yourself alone. This service is so needed and is such a gift.”

Another user, Emily, said: “Mind provided me with a lifeline when I had nowhere else to go and no one else to go to.”

If you use services through Mind that are to see changes, a member of staff will be in touch to let you know directly.

Call 0208 985 4239 if you have concerns about any changes to your service.

You can donate to Mind’s crowdfunder here.

More information on Mind’s services during the outbreak here, while advice for handling anxiety through the outbreak can be found here and advice for those on Universal Credit here.


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