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Thatcham support group able to continue thanks to funding appeal

Open for Hope formed in the wake of cuts to mental health services

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Thatcham support group raises enough funding to keep going

A THATCHAM charity formed in the wake of cuts to mental health is going strong nearly six months after its founding.

Open for Hope was formed from the Friends in Need Group, which was forced to close in March this year after having its funding cut.   

The group provides activities, help and peer support for vulnerable people, some of whom will not leave the house, are bereaved and isolated, have physical disabilities or are on benefits or low income. 

An appeal was launched to raise £5,000 to keep Open for Hope running for a year.

And, while the charity was short of the sought-after £5,000, Co-ordinator Jackie Wilkinson said that it had enough money to keep going in the meantime. 

Mrs Wilkinson said: “We are still going. We have had some funding from the Greenham Trust and from raising funds ourselves. 

“It’s quite difficult when it’s just us doing it. We are volunteers doing what we can. 

“We have kept the group going, which is really good for people, but we have to start all over again next year.”

She said that the charity had been able to help people; ranging from signposting, benefits and cooking.

Younger vulnerable people have been assisted in getting the support they need.

Open for Hope has also held fundraising events, which Mrs Wilkinson said engaged people and made a big difference in getting them socialising.

The charity has been attracting new members, with people coming from Newbury, Thatcham, Midgham, Hermitage and Cold Ash. 

Mrs Wilkinson said: “We have had a few more people, but it’s difficult if it’s just us.

“It’s hard to get out and get people to come in as we are just volunteers.

“We will make a bit more of a push when this [securing funding] is out of the way.” 

Open for Hope was launched under the umbrella of the West Berkshire Independent Living Network, a not-for-profit organisation supporting people with disabilities and their carers. 

Mrs Wilkinson said that, without support, some people would end up socially-isolated, sitting in their homes, relying more on social services and increasing the cost on the NHS.

The charity is still seeking funding and volunteers to keep the group going and anyone interested should contact Mrs Wilkinson at sec.wbiln@gmail.com or call 07391 194102. 

The charity meets at the Thatcham Memorial Hall on Tuesdays, between 1pm and 4pm, and helps people aged from their early 30s to the over-90s.

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