Diocese of Portsmouth

    Mental health charities helped by bishop’s appeal

    18 Nov. 2019

    GENEROUS worshippers from our parishes have raised more than £20,000 this year to help those affected by mental health issues.

    The cash was raised by our annual Bishop’s Lent Appeal, which inspires worshippers to donate and hold fundraising events for a different good cause through Lent and beyond each year.

    Bishop Christopher presented cheques to organisations that work with those with mental health issues after a special Evensong at our cathedral in November. Representatives of those charities attended the service and then received the donations at a reception afterwards.

    Normally half the money raised will go to a national or international charity, and the other half is shared between local organisations tackling similar issues in our diocese.

    This year, the amount raised included £2,700 from Peter Gould, the chairman of our diocese’s Royal School of Church Music. He undertook a pilgrimage to play as many church organs in our diocese as possible, inviting donations to the Bishop’s Lent Appeal from those who came along to listen. So far in 2019, Peter has visited more than 100 churches – and still has plans to visit more.

    The major national recipient of the Bishop’s Lent Appeal this year was the charity Heads Together, which is an initiative that was spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It aimed to tackle the stigma around mental health issues and change the conversation around these issues, so that people feel more comfortable talking about their everyday mental wellbeing. They were given £10,035 of the £20,070 raised.

    Among the local recipients was the Portsmouth deanery youth chaplaincy, which received just over £2,000. It offers free counselling support to young people, especially at Portsmouth College.

    Co-ordinator the Rev Sam Duddles said: “We want to invest in our counselling service, providing an out-of-hours service outside the educational settings that we usually operate in.”

    Gosport Voluntary Action received just over £3,000, which it plans to spend on its ‘Voluntheroes’ initiative. The group works with those who are disadvantaged and marginalised by deprivation, aiming to improve people’s wellbeing by personal contact. It also helps new volunteers with mental health issues to take steps to become more independent, developing the confidence to take up volunteering roles and apply for education or paid work.

    Its volunteer co-ordinator Sue Greene said: “This money means that we can run some excellent activities for our younger and older volunteers with mental health issues. Those activities can run for longer, and we can provide more support for those who need one-to-one support. We’re the only voluntary group for people in Gosport with mental health issues. This is a big contribution and we really appreciate it.”

    Tonic Music for Mental Health, which runs a community choir that rehearses in St Margaret’s Church, Southsea, also received just over £2,000 towards their work. They organise workshops, gigs, art groups and community projects for those experiencing mental health problems, aiming to provide an inclusive support network for people as they recover.

    Its founder, Steph Langan, said: “We don’t receive any funding, so this donation means we can provide more music workshops and help to make our choir free for those who wish to attend. We’ve developed good links with St Margaret’s Church. It’s a lovely partnership and the church has great acoustics for us to sing.”

    And £3,000 was also given to Brighterway, a charity operated by Southern Health NHS. It helps to buy new equipment, improved facilities, pilot projects and innovations that can’t be funded from core NHS funds. It focuses on expenditure that will improve the quality of life, wellbeing and independence of people they care for, aid their recovery and prevent them from becoming unwell.

    Head of the Trust Charity Brighterway, Ian Hynd said: “We are very grateful for such a generous donation from the churches in the Portsmouth diocese. The donation will help us to support our community and help to enhance the experience of the people who use our services.”

    Bishop Christopher presents a cheque to Ian Hynd, head of the Brighterway charity, in his chapel at Bishopgrove

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