Patient resorts to launching own charity

A MENTAL health patient has become so fed up with the closure of health services that he is taking the first steps towards setting up his own charity drop-in centre.

A MENTAL health patient has become so fed up with the closure of health services that he is taking the first steps towards setting up his own charity drop-in centre.

Barry Smith, 51, of Robeck Road, Ipswich, has had schizophrenia since the early 1980s and has worked as a volunteer with several mental health organisations.

Now he wants to use his skills and experiences to help others suffering with mental health problems.

He said: “So many things have closed in Ipswich recently that I feel there is a real need for this kind of project.

“We are going to call the charity Innersun and hope to set up a drop-in centre at one of the church halls in the Gipping ward.

“I'm in the process of applying for charitable status at the moment but am really looking for anyone who is interested in helping out, either financially, or by volunteering some of their time, to contact me.”

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Mr Smith, a former social care worker for the Mental After Care Association (MACA), hopes to run the drop-in centre two days a week and said it will be unique because it will be open to the general public as well as mental health patients.

He said: “My real aim is to cut down on the social exclusion that people with mental health problems experience.

“We will get people sitting down eating together and cooking together and, hopefully, the next time they see each other in the street they won't be walking on opposite sides.

“That's what the name of the charity is all about really. Quite often you see people with mental health problems and they are very withdrawn and taking lots of medication but you can see that inside them there is still a real warmth and sparkle and that's what we want to bring out.”

The initiative has the backing of Janette McCartney, the borough councillor for Gipping ward.

She said: “We need to do a lot of work to find out what the needs of people in this area are as we don't want to duplicate what other people are providing but I know that a lot of people are desperate for a service like this since the closure of places like Bridge House.”

If you are interested in helping out with the project contact Mr Smith on 01473 280515.

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