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Felixstowe: Future of mental health centre in Felixstowe is in doubt

10:00 11 December 2012

The Caretakers House, in Felixstowe

The Caretakers House, in Felixstowe

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THE future of a Felixstowe mental health centre which has provided support to hundreds of people was plunged into doubt today.

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Lack of mental health services is a problem for job hunters

MORE services are needed for people with mental health problems.

Those are the words of a jobs service provider who is seeing an increasing number of people with mental health and physical problems being told to find work.

Charlie Damonsing, of Ready4Work, a weekly drop-in centre for people searching for work, has seen a steady rise in people with different issues coming to her group since it opened in July.

She said: “A lot of them have depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.

“I’m not saying it is impossible and it won’t be a good thing – but these people have been told they need to look for work and there is not much support for them.”

Mrs Damonsing has called for more services and provisions, particularly for people in Felixstowe.

She added: “There is help out there but it is nearly all in Ipswich and if you don’t have a access to a car, or easy access to transport, then actually, getting in and out is quite difficult.”

Suffolk Mind ran wellbeing and mental health services out of The Caretaker’s House in High Road West for more than 20 years.

It was a thriving hub, used as a drop-in centre, for meetings, classes and activities, including workshops to teach people with mental health problems skills to help them get jobs.

Due to cuts in recent years, services were scaled back and now the use has stopped and the building is up for let after Mind lost its contract with NHS Suffolk, with mental health provision transferred to the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust.

The Caretaker’s House is owned by Suffolk Mind but has never been used by the Trust since it was awarded the contract in April.

Bosses at the charity have admitted they have been forced to find a new user for their former centre.

David Cocks, chairman of Suffolk Mind, said: “As a charity Suffolk Mind is seeking to ensure a return on its assets and is currently looking to lease the premises to another organisation.

“There are some local groups who use the building and we will do all we can to help them find alternative accommodation.”

It is unclear what the future holds for the facility, but the charity hopes a similar organisation will take it on, and provide similar services.

Despite never using The Caretakers House, the foundation trust said there are still mental health services running in Felixstowe.

Debbie White, director of operations in Suffolk, said: “Services are provided by the coastal community mental health team who run things like satellite clinics at GP surgeries.

“As a community team people will be looked after and treated at home.”

The potential closure has come at a time when people are calling for more services in light of plans to get people with disabilities back into work.

Charlie Damonsing, of Ready4Work, a jobs club in Felixstowe, revealed about ten per cent of the people who have come to the club since it opened in July, suffer from a number of disabilities and mental health issues.

She added: “These people have been told they need to look for work and there is not much support for them.”

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