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Police grant secures Talk It Out mental health hub at The Landmark Centre in Deal

By Eleanor Perkins

A £9,000 grant from Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott means Deal’s mental health wellbeing cafe can remain open until the end of 2018.

The share is almost a tenth of Mr Scott’s £107,556 Mental Health and Policing Fund which supports projects that help ease the demand of mental health on Kent Police.

Thirty bids for funding were received, from which the PCC selected a dozen projects across the county to award money to.

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Colin Smith, Tracy Carr, PCC Matthew Scott and Cllr Adrian Friend

Colin Smith, Tracy Carr, PCC Matthew Scott and Cllr Adrian Friend

One of them was the Talk It Out wellbeing cafe at The Landmark Centre in Deal, which has previously been described by users as a “lifeline”.

Founded by former mayoress Tracy Carr, it opened in April on a 12-week trial basis.

This money will pay the rent on the building for the next 18 months meaning the service can go on.

The wellbeing cafe is open to all from 11am until 1pm weekdays

The wellbeing cafe is open to all from 11am until 1pm weekdays

Visiting on Thursday, Mr Scott aid: “Around a third of Kent Police time is spent dealing with incidents of mental health and in many cases the police have only become involved as a service of last resort. I want to enhance the support available elsewhere to relieve some of this pressure because the current situation is not sustainable.

“Getting the right support for people with mental health issues at the right time is a guiding principle of Safer in Kent: The Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan. This is not only about easing the demands on Kent Police but also about making sure vulnerable people get the support they need and deserve.

A slice of cake was the only way to celebrate the news

A slice of cake was the only way to celebrate the news

“The staff and volunteers at Talk It Out, for example, are much better suited to helping people than police officers, who are not mental health professionals.”

Civil servant Colin Smith, from Deal, submitted the grant application on behalf of Talk It Out. He pledged his support to the group having contacted Mrs Carr after reading an article in the Mercury. The work is voluntary and done in his spare time.

He said: “I’ve applied successfully for 53 grants in the last 10 years and this grant for £9,690 for Talk It Out was the most important one I’ve ever applied for because it helps so many people in Deal and the centre is already a success.

“The grant awarded has ensured our project will continue for at least 18 months.

“Additionally there will be specific workshops for anxiety sufferers. It is vitally important, as the only well-being centre in Deal, and will also have a preventative element in reducing mental health police interventions.”

Celebrating the good news with PCC Matthew Scott

Celebrating the good news with PCC Matthew Scott

Mrs Carr said: “I am still in shock that we have this amazing grant to carry on our fantastic wellbeing centre.

"Colin Smith has worked so hard for me and Talk it Out. He is our true hero.”

The Talk It Out wellbeing centre is based in a room within the Spires Cafe at The Landmark Centre.

Run entirely by volunteers and peer support included retired psychotherapist Marie Jordan, it is open from 11am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.

The cafe is also offering support for single dads and people experiencing changes to their benefits.

Jonathon Crawley from Problem Solved? is offering his services for free every Monday from 11am to noon. He can offer limited legal advice and help with form filling.

Luke Shaw from charity Dad’s House is offering support to fathers seeking access to their children. He is there every Friday from 11am to 1pm.

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