Charity bosses tell of delight at £50k gift that saved them

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

Charity bosses have thanked the Wiltshire Times after a mystery donor gave them £50,000 when they read the group was facing closure.

Wiltshire Mind, based in Melksham, was preparing to close in November because it  was running out of cash after losing out on Wiltshire Council funding in 2010.

But the donor read of the charity’s plight and offered it enough money to keep going.

The gift, along with a restructure of the service, means the charity will continue to provide help and advice to hundreds of people struggling with mental health problems.

General manager Carolyn Long 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.

“I was excited, I was sure it would be enough for us to carry on in some way.”

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

Wiltshire Mind chairman Geoff Brown added: “It come 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 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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