Fakenham charity celebrates its 30th birthday

Lady Philippa Dannatt MBE The High Sheriff of Norfolk visits a mental health charity at the Wensum C

Lady Philippa Dannatt MBE The High Sheriff of Norfolk visits a mental health charity at the Wensum Centre in Fakenham. LtoR - Co-ordinator Debbie Brown, Wensum Centre Chair of Trustees Rosemary Ditchman and Lady Dannatt.

The High Sheriff of Norfolk has helped a mental health charity to celebrate its 30th birthday.

Lady Dannatt praised the work of the Wensum Centre, in Fakenham, which provides support to people suffering from mental health issues in the area.

The charity was formed by a local GP, Dr John Braithwaite, and a methodist minister, among others, with the aim of helping people with mental health issues to develop friendships and skills in a safe environment.

Lady Dannatt said: 'The work they do is just fantastic.

'It is somewhere people can build friendships and feel safe without being judged.

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'One lady said to me that this was her family.

'There just isn't enough support for mental health in the country.

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'Only something like 13pc of people with mental health difficulties get the treatment they need. If they only set 13pc of limbs there would be an outcry.'

The day centre, which is open for two and a half days a week, gives its members a space to socialise, learn skills or ask for advice.

Debbie Brown, centre coordinator, said: 'We tailor the package to fit the individual needs of the person.

'We have people with a whole range of conditions from depression and anxiety disorders to schizophrenia.

'We teach life skills and IT skills, how to fill in forms.

'There are lots of things that people with mental health issues don't feel comfortable doing so we try to help them with that.

'We have just found people's confidence has improved so much.

'People come here and make friends and some of them have started doing things together outside of the centre which is amazing.

'We enjoy their company and they enjoy ours. It is somewhere that they can feel safe and if they want a quiet word they can do that.'

The centre has around 20 regular members and takes referrals from a number of agencies including the Job Centre.

Chair of trustees Rosemary Ditchman, who has been involved with the project since the 80s, said: 'This is our 30th year so we are celebrating the work we have done.

'The work of the staff has kept us going all this time.

'We are the only centre like this in the area and there is nothing else like it directly to do with mental health.

'We are struggling with our funding like most charities these days.'

The Wensum Centre recently received £3,000 from the EDP, and its sister title the Fakenham Times, as part of the Let's Fight for Fakenham campaign.

The campaign was run by the papers in conjunction with North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk Community Foundation to help people and businesses affected by the biggest fire in living memory in Fakenham.

The generosity of readers meant that £10,000 was left over after all applications for funding were dealt with. This was split between three Fakenham charities.

Are you involved in a charitable organisation? Write to doug.faulkner@archant.co.uk

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