Stressed out frontline workers turn to mental health charity for help as Covid grant funds expansion

By Jamie Hill - 15 January 2021

Charity
  • Ipsum has received £36,000 from Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund for running costs after chief executive Julie Mattinson said the group had seen a 50 per cent rise in demand during the pandemic

    Ipsum has received £36,000 from Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund for running costs after chief executive Julie Mattinson said the group had seen a 50 per cent rise in demand during the pandemic

A mental health charity that has seen demand rise by 50 per cent as exhausted and anxious frontline workers turn to it for help has been given vital support through a coronavirus fund grant.

  • Ipsum has received £36,000 from Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund for running costs after chief executive Julie Mattinson said the group had seen a 50 per cent rise in demand during the pandemic

    Ipsum has received £36,000 from Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund for running costs after chief executive Julie Mattinson said the group had seen a 50 per cent rise in demand during the pandemic

Ipsum in Swindon has been awarded £36,000 from Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund. The fund has already raised more than £1.2 million and distributed more than £1 million through 200 grants to groups across the county.

The group provides low cost one-to-one counselling as well as art, music and writing therapy groups. Chief executive Julie Mattinson said the grant will help cover its running costs to allow it to stay open, increase its volunteer counsellors and expand its services online to cope with the extra calls for help.

She said: “We are seeing a significant increase in frontline workers coming to us during the pandemic because they are struggling. They are under relentless strain at work as well as having to manage their home lives and they are just finding it hard to cope with everything.”

With more than 400 clients on its books, the Milton Road group fears the uncertainty of the third lockdown is having a far greater effect on people than the previous two. “The impact on people has just been tremendous, we have fewer hours of daylight and people don’t feel like going out if the weather is bad. Us still being here has made a massive difference to people,” she said.

“A lot of our service users have said that the new strain of the virus and not knowing when we are going to come out of lockdown is having a huge effect on them. The uncertainty is causing so much concern.”

The crippling anxiety and isolation has brought many of the group’s users to crisis point. “Within 24 hours last week we had three different counsellors ring us to say their clients were suicidal and had made a plan,” said Mrs Mattinson.

“Because of this grant we have been given, we were able to be there for them, put the right safeguarding measures in place and make a real difference.”

She said the increase in clients is even taking a toll on her own staff and volunteers. “Our staff and our counsellors are working much harder and we are aware that we have to take care of their mental health as well. We have a fabulous team here and we need to look after them,” she said.

She said the grant will help the group continue to expand and adapt its services. “The fact we have had this money means we don’t have to furlough anyone so we can still be here for the people who need us,” she said.

“We are increasing our volunteer counselling provision to take it to 40 this year because of the demand. All of this can go ahead because of the funding we have had.”

 

 

The group has introduced online community chat rooms for users and people referred by partner organisations. “They are facilitated by us and are sessions where people can talk about anything,” said Mrs Mattinson. “We want to keep everyone safe so if there are additional needs they can go offline to talk to someone.

“We are finding lots of new ways of connecting with our community.  We have extended our work to the Olive Tree Café and TWIGs and we are working with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust organising mindfulness walks.”

Mrs Mattinson said she expects demand to keep growing throughout 2021. “Wiltshire Community Foundation’s grant has allowed us to not only continue our service but to enhance it and to keep growing it for the climate we are in,” she said.

Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver said: “Ipsum has adapted brilliantly to the demands of this pandemic and to the needs of the people it does so much to help, we are delighted to continue our support for it.

“Our fund is there to help groups who are the bedrock of our communities tackle immediate need and find their way out of this crisis, that’s why we need the public’s support so badly.”

To donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund or to find out how to apply for a grant, go to wiltshirecf.org.uk. Find out more about Ipsum at ipsum.care.

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