Reprieve for volunteer centre

A TWO year struggle to help those with mental health problems or disabilities to help others has today come to an end. Bosses at Ipswich and District Volunteer Centre - a charity which places volunteers with other organisations - have announced they have the cash they need to set up a supported volunteer project to help those with mental health issues, physical disability, learning difficulties, or those who just lack confidence, to volunteer.

A TWO year struggle to help those with mental health problems or disabilities to help others has today come to an end.

Bosses at Ipswich and District Volunteer Centre - a charity which places volunteers with other organisations - have announced they have the cash they need to set up a supported volunteer project to help those with mental health issues, physical disability, learning difficulties, or those who just lack confidence, to volunteer.

Centre manager Lynne McNab said: “We are absolutely delighted. It has been two years of hard work to find the right grant funding. But we now have £15,000 and a new project worker who will give that extra support some of our volunteers need.”

The problem has been that coming to see us was such a difficult step that in between seeing us and going to the organisation more than half dropped out.

“We found we had to make a lot more referrals before a placement was filled. We knew how extra support can work.”

Mrs McNab said volunteering can help restore confidence and is part of the healing process for those with mental illness.

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She said: “It is a way of helping people help themselves. For those with depression or anxiety volunteering is often the first step back to improving social inclusion and getting back into employment and reaching their potential.

“It is also a way of improving self esteem.”

Mrs McNab said their own research showed that in 2005 16per cent of the people they saw hoping to volunteer needed extra support.

She said the money has come from a variety of sources including the European Union Single Gateway Fund.

“We have now got the funding we need for the project for a year,” she added.

Project worker Astra Wilkinson said: “I will be assisting volunteers in opportunities and activities and offering support along the way. It is an individual process custom-made to suit the volunteer.”

For more information about volunteering contact the project on 01473 233817.

Have you been helped by the project? Write to Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

-One in six people suffer from depression.

-The Ipswich and District Volunteer Centre has been running since 1971 and is based in Tower Street.

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