Support worker cuts will hit groups

PUBLISHED: 14:00 10 June 2011 | UPDATED: 11:55 17 June 2011

Members of the Way4ward Club at the BAY Centre

Members of the Way4ward Club at the BAY Centre

Archant

TWO community groups working with people with mental health problems in Burnham could be dealt a 'devastating' blow when two support workers will be forced to leave their posts in December.

The Way4ward Club and The Sunflower Club will lose the use of the two paid workers when funding from Somerset County Council and the NHS Somerset Partnership is withdrawn.

The duo, who offer professional advice to the two Burnham-based groups as well as others across Somerset, currently work as part of the North Sedgemoor Community Service (NSCS), which is run by mental illness charity Rethink, but is jointly funded by the two authorities.

The changes, which will see the NSCS scrapped, will come into force on December 16, and voluntary organiser Lisa Skinner thinks the groups will struggle to offer the same standard of service to people with mental health problems.

She said: “When this cut comes in it could have a devastating effect on people with mental health problems in Burnham.

“The two workers we currently have in on a part-time basis offer a lot of essential services to us, they provide training to us so we can give assistance to the people who come to the groups.

“If we don’t know how to deal with something, they are our port of call if it’s a particular need and we need to offer advice, or help with forms.

“It will make it very difficult for the volunteers who work in the groups, as that level of specialised help is very important.”

The Sunflower Club offers informal social sessions on Mondays at the Burnham Area Youth (BAY) Centre, while the Way4ward Club offers a range of activities on Fridays, at the same venue.

Mrs Skinner said the groups, which currently serve between 12 and 15 people, would endeavour to carry on, but would increasingly have to look towards more volunteers to keep them going.

She continued: “If more people want to come to us to join the groups, then it will be very hard to accept them as we might not be able to support them fully in the future.

“We’re going to endeavour to keep both groups going however, and keep them supporting people with mental health problems in Burnham.”

Neil Singleton, services manager for Rethink, said: “Rethink can confirm that it will be closing the North Sedgemoor Community Service in December due to funding. We are sad to see this service go and would like to thank all the staff and service users for their ongoing support and commitment.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for the groups, should call Clare on 07971 912452.

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