Growth plans for mental health charity

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A CHARITY which has helped thousands of people with mental health issues into work plans to expand its services across three counties.

Workwise, in Bury St Edmunds, is to extend the work link employment support programme across other parts of Suffolk as well as Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

The service offers help and advice to those with mental health issues on training, educational and work based issues with the aim of getting them into employment.

Bosses confirmed they are in advanced negotiations with mental health teams in the Ipswich, Suffolk Coastal, Haverhill, Forest Heath, Stowmarket, Sudbury and Thetford areas to broaden the programme.

Chief executive Valerie Beresford said: “In the UK one in four people suffer from mental health issues at some time in their life so there is a huge demand for a service such as ours.

“Employment and having a structured working day can be the key factor in people’s recovery from mental ill health and we want to ensure as many people as possible are given that opportunity.

“It does not seem right that it is only available in Bury.”

The 25-year-old charity operates from three sites in the town and offers employment training in fields such as business administration, IT, computer aided design, manufacturing, woodwork, boat building and industrial embroidery.

A number of sites in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire are being considered as locations for similar work based training centres.

The move marks a reversal in fortunes for the charity after bosses voiced fears for its future earlier this year as a result of funding changes.

Suzanne Mildinhall, personalisation manager for Workwise, said: “With everything that’s happened it does show our resilience as an organisation in that we will diversify to meet what need there is in the community. We’re confident this service is needed.”

The service will be funded through a combination of the charity’s social enterprise work, fund—raising and client’s personal budgets introduced by Suffolk County Council to allow people to purchase particular services.