It is with deepest regret that due to a lack of funding North Staffs Voice for Mental Health will be closing its doors.
Tue 12 Dec 2017
The charity was formed in 1994 as North Staffs Users Group. Its origins began in a meeting in 1992 between a service user and an interested worker who at the time worked for the National Schizophrenia Federation (NSF). The idea evolved of establishing a group that could exert some influence over service provision in the statutory sector. The main impetus for this came from the dissatisfaction that service users felt about the way that they were treated by the statutory providers of mental health services.
Since those humble beginnings, the group has developed over the last 25 years. Our current membership is over 1300 and just last year, we visited over 70 different venues across North Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. However the aims of the charity have always remained the same – to ensure that the voice of people who access mental health services are heard.
Unfortunately we have been a victim of recent funding cuts by the local Clinical Commissioning Groups and despite our best efforts, we have not been successful in gaining alternative funding. This means that the staff team will be leaving and the office will be closing on 20th December. Carole Stone, CEO of North Staffs Voice, ‘This could not have come at a worse time for some of the most vulnerable people of North Staffordshire. Continuing cuts to local government and NHS budgets will only lead to further reductions and changes to services. We have been perfectly placed to keep people informed of changes and ensure that they are able to participate in meaningful consultation about them. Unfortunately traditional methods of consultation, such as large public meetings, are not accessible to a lot of people who have mental health difficulties, so in the future they may excluded from being able to engage – their voice will not be heard’.
The Board of Trustees put forward a resolution to dissolve the charity. Chair, Adam Colclough says ‘There is still clearly a need for a group to fight for better mental health services, however we feel unable to continue to meet our charitable aims without a paid staff team. We believe it would be better to start a new group with aims that we can realistically meet with limited resources’. All members had an opportunity to vote, by post or in person at a meeting. The result of the vote is that the charity will formally be dissolved on 31st December 2017.