Windfall for charity

This Is Wiltshire: Chairman Geoff Brown, volunteer Judith Mott, general manager Carolyn Long, front, and client support officer Peggi Lewis Chairman Geoff Brown, volunteer Judith Mott, general manager Carolyn Long, front, and client support officer Peggi Lewis

A mystery benefactor has saved a Wiltshire mental health charity from folding with an incredible £50,000 donation.

Wiltshire Mind was preparing to close in November, having lost out on Wiltshire Council funding in 2010.

However the unexpected gift from the anonymous donor, along with restructuring the service, means the charity will continue to provide help to hundreds of people struggling with mental health problems.

Carolyn Long, general manager of the charity which is based in Melksham, said: “I’m delighted, I sort of can’t quite believe it.

“We’d set everything in motion to close everything down.

“I just got a phone call one morning from someone who said they wanted to give us a donation. I said ‘can you give me an idea of the sum’ and they said £50,000. There was a long silence! It was just incredible, completely out of the blue.”

The donor met with the trustees and agreed to give the money after hearing what the charity’s plans are.

Wiltshire Mind’s chairman Geoff Brown added: “It came out of the blue, it was quite astonishing really. They read in the paper we were closing and that inspired the person to do it, it’s quite amazing. It went from disbelief to appreciation.

“It feels like winning the lottery without buying a ticket. We’re very, very grateful. It’s great that there are still people out there who have a kind heart and want to help others.”

However Wiltshire Mind will have to run a reduced service with less staff as it attempts to get back on its feet. Drop-in groups will continue to run in Malmesbury, Chippenham, Devizes and Trowbridge but those in Corsham, Melksham, Wootton Bassett and Westbury will be suspended, as will the counselling service.

Half of the 12 part-time staff will lose their jobs in the shake-up.

Mrs Long said: “We’re reducing the number of groups we’re running. Hopefully we’ll be able to restart the others but at the moment we’re going to run with the four.

“We’ve looked at the area we’ve covered and we’ll still be covering the whole area but it means some people will have to travel a little further to get to a group, but there will still be someone there.

“If we hadn’t changed anything it would have lasted six months, but it’s obviously going to be longer than that, probably hopefully getting on for a year.

“We really want to build up the Friends of Wiltshire Mind and get a group of enthusiastic people who will go out and fundraise for us. We also want to strengthen our board of trustees. We’re particularly looking for anyone with legal experience or clinical experience with mental health, but we’re looking for committed, enthusiastic, capable people.”

You can contact Wiltshire Mind at its Spa Road, Melksham base on (01225) 706532.

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