The Evolution of KIM

From a shed at the bottom of a garden to becoming an award-winning charity supplying high quality mental health support across vast swathes of North Wales.

The last 16 years has proved quite a journey for the KIM charity, that name standing for Knowledge, Inspiration and Motivation.

The charity has grown in influence and in stature since launching in 2002, initially supporting women only.

Now the extent of their work is far-reaching and available to every member of the community – male and female, young and old – and is set to grow even further in the coming years.

A new ‘Evolution’ programme focused on further development is now in place, and will be supported by the Steve Morgan Foundation to the tune of £208,650 over the next three years, funding various roles which are aiming to take the charity forward.

First of all let’s go back to the beginning, a very good place to start, with CEO Annie Donovan, who has been with the charity for 14 of its 16 years.

“The charity started off with what was the founder’s shed at the bottom of the garden, and now we have a building which is effectively a community centre, and 14 staff with the vital help of around 70 volunteers.

“Initially the charity was working only with women, but now works with women, men, young people via our KIMBetweeners programme and offers activities for the community.

“KIM is also a social enterprise running café’s at Mold Crown Court in Flintshire and the Heddfan Psychiatric Unit in Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

“So yes, it has certainly been growing over the years!

“We try and offer different activities for people to try, encouraging them to get out and about, meet others and do something that they can enjoy and perhaps find hobbies which can be pursued away from the organisation.”

Those activities that KIM provide are certainly wide-ranging.

There are many group-led activities for men, women and young people, all based in community venues, allowing those taking part to become aware of the facilities which are available on their doorsteps.

All is aimed to try and integrate everybody who needs the services of KIM within their local community.

And now, comes this new Evolution project, with the charity looking to extend its vital sphere of influence.

“We have always been a mental health service, and this new project which has been supported by the Steve Morgan Foundation is about extending our work in the community,” Annie explains.

“It is about getting people involved who have time on their hands, or are potentially at risk of feeling low or losing confidence because they are not active.

“Our clients who have been low in confidence have to build up that confidence and their skills to get them crossing over into community projects.

“We have lots of members of staff and volunteers who have come through some form of mental health issue – all of us have some sort of issue during our lives don’t we? A bereavement for example, and that is the view we take on it.

“So what we are trying to do is strengthen and build up the resilience of the local community with this project.

“To develop a new approach which is much more community-focused and is not just about training the volunteers to work for the charity but find really meaningful roles within the local community.

“There may be some taster sessions in the first instance, but we aim to extend the networks into something more lasting and give people more meaningful social opportunities.”

And it is that desire to strengthen links in the community that is accompanied with a desire to help not only those who require the support of KIM, but also the extensive network of volunteers who will become an even bigger part of the charity through this Evolution programme.

“It is always great for us to see how people develop,” adds Annie.

“To see how our clients develop and enjoy using our services, but also the staff and volunteers who develop their skills as well.

“The project is called Evolution, and reflects how the whole organisation has evolved from starting in that shed.

“Clients evolve, volunteers evolve, staff evolve – as an example we have someone here now who is studying a PHD and other staff training in social work.

“The whole culture of what we are doing is about all of us who are involved – no matter what our role – and learning, developing and evolving.

“People have come through and built the organisation as well. People that might have been very poorly ten years ago have worked hard to improve their mental health, learned new skills and are now sharing those skills with other people who need them.

“Then it is about having an impact on the local community where we can hopefully influence that evolvement as well.

“That is why this funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation is so important, and we are really appreciative of their support.”

 

  • If anyone would like to know more about getting involved in KIM’s Evolution Project or any other aspect of their work give them a call on 01352 872189 or email info@kim-inspire.org.uk

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