Falling resources means The Hub is under threat

Times Technology Expert Haydon Kirby of Infinity

It is a place of solitude and respect, where sufferers of mental health issues find solace and the means to face the world.

But now The Hub, run by the Tunbridge Wells based charity Mental Health Resource, is under threat owing to dwindling resources, as it deals with an increase in clients.

In the heart of the town, the sky-blue building, tucked away in Grosvenor Park, is a refuge for those who would otherwise struggle in their daily lives.

Alison Skulczuk, a director of the charity, and Dave Collins who runs The Hub, spoke of their ‘delight’ at being selected to benefit from the Times’ Christmas appeal.

Mr Collins said: “It is getting harder and harder to supplement what we do. Central government is decreasing and we receive no NHS funding.

“At the moment we need about £25,000 per annum to run this place, but it could reach £100,000 by next year. At the same time, it’s getting busier, with the number of clients steadily increasing.”

Mr Collins said not long ago, The Hub would cater for about 100 clients per year, but this has increased to about 250 regular attendees.

Staff at The Hub help clients identify short and long term goals, ‘gain a sense of achievement’ and improve quality of life alongside free counselling.

The clients themselves take part in activities, such as cooking, computer studies, yoga and creating artwork, some of which has previously been on display to the public.

If they are able to, they can help cooking for the others, which gives a sense of responsibility and some of the clients end up essentially working as volunteers at The Hub, mentoring others.

“It’s all about progress” said Mrs Skulczuk, adding: “Ultimately our aim is to help them get employment.”

But she added that the nature of Tunbridge Wells can sometimes mean it is hard for charities which deal with traditionally stigmatised issues to be recognised.

She explained: “The affluence of an area can make it harder to be seen.

“There are still some attitudes which are not helpful with regards to employment and housing in particular.”

Financial affluence is no shield to mental illness, said Mr Collins, although those who live in poverty are more likely to suffer from it.

He added: “It is a polarised town. There is a growing underclass in Tunbridge Wells with people falling through the net. I have had one desperate person turn up on hands and knees begging for help.”

Mrs Skulczuk said: “It’s really great we’ve been selected for the Times’ Christmas appeal and that mental health has been prioritised. With more people than ever needing mental health services, we’re delighted.

“It will make a big difference to a lot of local people. Some of the services we offer can save lives.”

All donations to the Christmas appeal will automatically be split between the Times’ three chosen charities.

To give, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TimesofTunbridgeWellsChristmasAppeal

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