The charitable sector across Kent is preparing for a huge demand in additional support for mental health provision and debt advice and will need additional financial and volunteer support if it is to meet these demands

Kent Community Foundation has been supporting charities in Kent for almost twenty years and spoke to two charities working in the Tonbridge and Malling area about their worries for the months ahead.

Mental Health Resource, which Kent Community Foundation has been supporting since 2008, provides safe spaces and person-centred mental health support. Recently the Foundation awarded them £4,000 from their Coronavirus Emergency Fund to help the charity to adapt to providing their services online rather than face to face.

Every year, Mental Health Resource helps over 1000 people across projects, including a wellbeing centre ‘The Hub’,  ‘Reachout’ groups for adults and young people, an out of hours crisis ‘Serenity’ café and a specialist advocacy service ‘Assert’, which provides support to those who are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. Additionally, they run mental health awareness and mental health first aid training courses.

The charity supports people who have complex, enduring mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar, psychosis, schizophrenia, self-harm, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and suicidal feelings. COVID-19 has deeply heightened the anxiety levels for most of their clients, with many facing immediate concerns including food and benefit issues, loneliness, bereavement, housing problems, and problems with anti-social residents. As a result, they are now experiencing a rise in clients with deteriorating mental and physical health, sleeping problems and for those without access to the internet, even further isolation from the community.

Rachel Corry, Charity Manager, Mental Health Resource, said, “We know that the anxiety and lack of social contact during the COVID-19 situation has had and is having a massive impact on people’s mental health. We  know that demand for the services Mental Health Resource offers will increase as we emerge from lockdown yet we estimate a 70% reduction in our community fundraised income this year, due to cancelled events, a loss of corporate sponsorship activity and a decline in individual giving. If you believe, in improved mental wellbeing for everyone, please consider supporting us with a donation. We can only do what we do because of our supporters and during these tough times, we would hugely welcome your donations. Thank you.”

https://www.mentalhealthresource.org.uk/Appeal/Donate

Crosslight Advice West Kent is an independent, locally embedded charity which exists to combat the poverty and hardship caused by the burden of unmanageable debt and lack of financial capability. Working in partnership with local churches, Crosslight has been supporting the community of West Kent for over 15 years from bases in Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks and has been supported by Kent Community Foundation for many years.

Being ‘in debt’ often comes with a stigma attached, the assumption being that an individual has overspent or been profligate. Crosslight clients are some of the most economically disadvantaged and vulnerable, surviving on a low income or entirely reliant on benefits. Their debts have mostly arisen not because of borrowing they have taken on, but because of essential bills like rent, gas, and electricity that they are unable to afford. Meeting those bills often means that individuals and families are unable to meet their other basic needs for food, clothing, and travel.

Bruce Connell, Chief Executive, Crosslight Advice, said, “Sadly, as the full effects of the current COVID-19 crisis feed through into the real economy, and especially as the various job-retention schemes come to an end, we are expecting a surge in demand from individuals and families who will suffer financial crises following redundancy, reduced hours, and lack of opportunity.

We firmly believe that professional, locally-delivered, debt advice, delivered holistically and coupled with money education and budgeting skills – all of which have been at the heart of the Crosslight ethos since formation – are absolutely essential for the support and recovery of our communities.

For many clients, Crosslight is their last hope. But by providing expert advice at the point of need, and doing so in a person-centred, open-ended way, we seek to play our part in supporting our communities to thrive.”

To find out more, or to make a donation, please visit www.crosslightadvice.org