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Groups will battle stigma and provide more support

WARM WELCOME: Anne Stevenson and Matthew Healy want more people to visit Herne Bay Umbrella Centre
WARM WELCOME: Anne Stevenson and Matthew Healy want more people to visit Herne Bay Umbrella Centre

A WARM welcome awaits at two new groups at the Umbrella Centre. The centre received funding from Serco for sessions aimed at reaching people who may not otherwise visit it. A new session worker, Matthew Healy, has also been recruited and joins senior worker Anne Stevenson to make sure the groups provide what people need. On Monday evenings, the doors are open for anyone aged between 18 and 35 and on Wednesday evening sessions are for women only, of any age. Anne said:

“We specifically chose those two groups because they are under-represented. With young people, it is partly because it is difficult to spot whether they are experiencing teenage angst, family issues or have a mental health issue that is going unrecognised. And women tend to put up with things and just get on with it because that is what everyone expects.”

During the day, the Umbrella Centre in William Street offers social groups for people with learning difficulties, and Parasol sessions for anyone with a mental health issue, but the evening sessions are designed to be different. Anne said:

“It’s important to recognise that you can have problems with your mental health without having a mental health problem. There is still such a stigma that we have people here from other towns because they don’t want anyone they know to see them coming in. The most difficult thing to do is to walk through the doors because that is admitting there is some sort of problem and they need advice and support. But once they have made that step they can totally relax because everyone is either a member of staff, here to offer non-judgemental support, or a member who has been there and can empathise. They can come in and be themselves, whoever they are at the moment.”

Sessions are free and could include anything from outside speakers to beauty treatments or arts and crafts. They run from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, with the women’s group on Wednesdays and the 18-35 group on Mondays.

  • Volunteers are also needed, and for more information call 01227 370200 or visit www.hernebayumbrella.btik.com
    You can also find the centre on Facebook and Twitter.

Herne Bay Times, January 23rd 2014

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