Charity gears up for surge in Covid-19 mental health cases

A charity which provides mental health support to young people in Wirral is gearing up for a surge in demand linked to coronavirus.

The Open Door Centre was facing a cash crisis caused by Covid-19 until the Steve Morgan Foundation awarded them £47,100 in emergency funding to continue working with the vulnerable.

The charity had already been operating at 90 per cent capacity before the outbreak and say the funding will enable them to expand their capacity when they reopen.

Founder Lee Pennington said: “From making the application to the Steve Morgan Foundation to getting the money in our bank account was less than a week. Some organisations can take six months to make a decision so the speed is vital.

“£47,100 is a significant amount of money and we’re very grateful to the Steve Morgan Foundation. If we’re not proactive in expanding our capacity now we simply won’t be able to manage when we do reopen.”

Explaining how Covid-19 has impacted on the charity’s work Lee said: “We’re based in the Bloom Building in Birkenhead and closing that for three months will cost us around £15,000 in lost revenue from the café and events.

“It’s also been a challenge to deliver our core services. We can’t work with people one-to-one. We’ve set up satellite ways of working.”

There are three key strands to the work of The Open Door Centre, which is run as a membership organisation and is open to all.

“The first strand is around offering free, and immediate support and a creative adaptation of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for young people who are feeling down, or stressed or anxious,” explained Lee.

“Strand two is around volunteering and training opportunities, and getting the community involved in what we are delivering here on a day to day basis.

“And the final strand is about music and the arts, and trying to leverage discussions around mental health and depression and tackle the stigmas and misunderstandings by using the world of music and creativity.

“It is about offering an alternative to the clinical NHS approach, which is the only other place where these issues are talked about or support can be accessed.

“We are not a mental health charity or an arts organisation or a training provider, but instead something between all three!”

Steve Morgan, founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “The Open Door Centre has a track record of combining mental health with the arts and training. They’ve helped so many young people and as well as dealing with the immediate problems caused by Covid-19, it’s essential to be prepared for the challenges further down the line.”

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