Funding for local charity with increasing number of clients

A “hard-working” Western Isles charity which runs the Catch 23 drop-in centre for people with mental illness says the current economic climate may in part be responsible for a 25 per cent increase in drop-ins in the past year.

The Western Isles Association for Mental Health, which operates from an old house in Bayhead, Stornoway, provides a safe and quiet haven for clients, offering activities such as painting and drawing, creative writing, digital photography and training.

It currently caters from 170 clients annually and this year predicts it will experience almost 5,500 drop-ins, up by a quarter on the previous year’s figure.

Del Gunn, who manages the centre, said:

“I have no doubt that the financial climate has been a factor in our increasing numbers. People are losing their jobs, and are worried about benefits, and that is bound to impact on their mental health.

“The population of the Western Isles is 26,000 and, taking away the people of the Southern Isles, who do not use the project, one per cent of the population engage with us. That’s a significant proportion, and I am sure it wouldn’t be that high were it not for the state of the economy.”

Now, the charity is being helped is its work thanks to a £6,500 grant from Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, whose Chief Executive, Mary Craig OBE, said:

“This hard-working charity is now recognised as the area’s main provider of support for people suffering from mental health issues and is very much focused on moving people on as quickly as possible once they have benefited from the service.

“I am delighted that, once again, we have been able to offer support.”

The grant, which will go towards the salary of the charity’s project support worker, takes to more than £18,000 the amount the charity has received from the Foundation over the years.

Charities which would like more information about applying to Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland for an award should contact the Foundation on 0131 444 4020.