June 20th was a sad day, for this was the day we had to close the club.

The club was started in February 1996 and was known as The West End Club and was run from the Stable block at Tolvean House. Tolvean was said to be in a state of dis-repair and was to expensive to do up. So Mental Health Services lost it, so it was a big suprise when it reopened as a Drug and Alcohol Centre.

So The West End Club was then moved into the resource centre at Trengweath, it was a good place and the club ran on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

The Acute Ward was still open and very often nurses from the ward would bring up patients who was having a bad day.

From there we were shipped out to the St. John's Ambulance Hall in Redruth and this is where the name was changed to The Redruth Friendship Club.

Unfortunately The St. John's Hall was in such a state of repair, that when it rained we had to wear our coats.... the rent was cheap though and it was alright for us because we are just mental health service users.

In the end, the Council condemed the hall and closed it down, so we moved once again, this time to the next cheapest hall in Redruth... The YMCA @ £1,600 a year and this was after we changed our opening times to just three hours, plus one hour for the setting up and putting away, so four hours in total..... this was a little different from the seven hours for each of the three days we use to open.

The attendences were still slowly growing, after a couple of drop off's, when we moved and the last year we had 484 visitors.

Many of the Service User's, including myself has been struggling since we realised we had to close. I informed the group in January that the grant had been reduced from £2,400 to the maximum of £1,000, whilst the rent was about to increase to £1,750 per annum.

The original funding came direct from the Primary Care Trust, but for years it has been handled by the Cornwall Rural Community Council via The Mental Health Project. When the budget was first set up over twelve years ago, the budget was £64,000 for the self help budget.... the budget now is £64,000.... The Mental Health Project has failed service users in not able to negotiate at the minimum an annual inflation increase.

It was Service Users who use to negotiate such budgets, but now we are sidelined and are suffering because of this. Where Service Users lead the involvement, they seem to let the service provider know why such spending can help to keep their budgets down.

The reason behind the starting of The West End Club / Redruth Friendship Club was because it helps to support those comming out of the Acute Ward for it was a very strong Peer to Peer suport group.

The closing of the club has already cost the public a lot of money. For after breaking the news to club members, two of them ended up on the ward, one of them is still there today 1st July, approximately 20 weeks later and if reports that it cost around £1,200 a week to keep someone on the ward... that is £24,000, even if the cost is just half of that, it is still around £12,000 compared to a sum of less than 25% of that. Of course that is looking at just one of our members, but two of them ended up on ward, nearly a third one was admitted. Over the future years I wonder just how much this short-sighted viewpoint will cost you the tax payer.

If anyone has a concern about Mental Health Services in Cornwall please contact me via http://www.suncornwall.com
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