Mental health care 'plugged by volunteers’ in a bid to tackle crisis in Blackpool

Pictured right, Dr Arif Rajpura
Pictured right, Dr Arif Rajpura
Share this article
Have your say

Volunteers are plugging gaps in mental health services in a bid to tackle a crisis which is seeing more people seeking emergency help.

A scarcity of beds has meant patients who arrive at Blackpool Victoria Hospital A&E have waited more than 12 hours for treatment.

Now campaigners say more preventative work must be done to help sufferers before they reach crisis point.

Stuart Clayton, from Bispham, representing the Fylde Family Support Group, told a full meeting of Blackpool Council that cuts to mental health services had left many people with nowhere to turn to.

But through peer support, a number of community networks had been built to help people get their lives back on track.

These included Time to Change, Art of Recovery, Blackpool Inspirations and Rethink Mental Illness which have stepped in to fill the gap left by public funding cuts to traditional services.

Mr Clayton said: “There are people out there suffering every day, they can’t wait any more years, they can’t wait any longer.

“We are the people who were thrown into chaos when budgets were slashed but we are resilient and survivors and will stick together and recover.”

He added the work done by community groups was vital and called on the council to support them.

He said: “Mental health services are not cheap and they don’t just need to improve, they need to change and without the contribution of these groups we will not achieve that.”

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet secretary for resilient communities, said: “We acknowledge the situation can’t continue. Mental health in Blackpool is at and beyond crisis point.”

Blackpool’s director of public health Dr Arif Rajpura said more money needed to be invested in preventing people reaching the point where they sought emergency help.

Speaking after the meeting, he said “It is a real issue for a place like Blackpool where mental health needs to be good and treatment preventative.

“Some of the voluntary sector is plugging the gap and we want to work closely with the voluntary sector.

“Funding is an issue but we need to look at the existing spend and we need to invest in prevention.”

A recent survey by GPs found that 18.5 per cent of respondents in Blackpool reported they had suffered from anxiety or depression.

That compares to a figures of just 13. 7 per cent for England.