Published: 12:00, 02 April 2017
Today's opening of a community hub for people with mental health difficulties was described as D-Day by the woman behind the project
The highly anticipated Talk It Out well-being centre at The Landmark Centre in Deal officially opened its doors at 11am.
Based in a separate room within the current Spires Cafe, the free service will run from 11am until 1pm, Monday to Friday, for 12 weeks until more funding is secured.
Scroll down for video
Former mayoress Tracy Carr, who is behind the project, said: “This has been three years in the making. It’s finally D-Day.”
She said the hub is a meeting place not only for people with mental illness but also those who don’t feel socially included. It is a venue to meet like-minded people as well as the chance to learn computer or craft skills.
Mrs Carr first started campaigning for improved mental health support in Deal about six years ago, when she started the support group Talk It Out (TIO).
In the past year, her efforts have grown to boost the services TIO provides.
She has produced a charity calendar, which raised more than £2,000 towards cafe set-up costs.
She, and other members, appeared on BBC television. And this month they launched a second support group in Sandwich at the Phoenix Centre in Jubilee Road.
She hopes the cafe will become a hub for people in crisis, and help relieve pressures on the police.
Mrs Carr said: “The people of Deal have waited too long for this vital service.
“We have been campaigning for a long time and suffered some set-backs along the way but I’m delighted that the wellbeing cafe is now happening.”
Kent County councillor for Deal Mike Eddy has helped get the project off the ground with funding from the Member’s Fund.
Mrs Carr said: “Without the support of Cllr Mike Eddy, this project might not have happened.
"We are very proud of all supporters and would like to take this opportunity to invite everybody who cares about mental health support in Deal to come and have a look.”
The daytime support group will run alongside the existing cafe. There will also be a private therapy room for one-to-one sessions.
Mrs Carr added: “We have another funding bid being considered thanks to our grant fundraiser Colin Smith.
"This would fund the group if the trial goes well, and we may look to extend the opening hours for the daytime in the future.
“We will need to carefully evaluate the trial after the end of June, so we can form a future plan.”
Thanks have been given to everyone who has been involved in the campaign.
These include Deal and Walmer Community Association, for a substantial discount in rent to help start the project, and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke.
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.