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Maidstone and Mid Kent's College Road base unveils £140,000 makeover, with new counselling rooms

Mental health services have received a six-figure makeover in Maidstone as demand continues to rise.

Thousands of people attend Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind each year for counselling and training.

A £140,000 extension was unveiled today, which means the College Road site can now offer more room for one to one sessions and more space for the public to learn about mental health support.

Police and crime commissioner Matthew Scott opens the new building at Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind with CEO Julie Blackmore, Mayor Cllr David Naghi and staff and guests on Friday. Picture: Chris Davey
Police and crime commissioner Matthew Scott opens the new building at Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind with CEO Julie Blackmore, Mayor Cllr David Naghi and staff and guests on Friday. Picture: Chris Davey

Chief executive Julie Blackmore said: "One of the reasons we needed to extend the space is our groups are getting higher and higher every week.

"Two years ago our social groups would have eight to 10 people in. Yesterday we had 25, numbers are increasing massively

"We've definitely seen an increase in young people visiting us over the last three years.

Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind during the extension works (7519391)
Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind during the extension works (7519391)

"We got funding from Children in Need that allowed us to develop a young person's project, we've kind of opened the doors and we've had a huge amount of young people come to us for support.

"We get a huge amount of people come through here, whether that's for training or one to one support."

Local firms clubbed together to pay for the extension, meaning the mental health charity could focus on paying for its own services.

Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind during the extension works (7519389)
Maidstone and Mid Kent Mind during the extension works (7519389)

Aside from counselling, MMK Mind also teaches the public by putting on youth mental health first aid training and offering free suicide prevention training.

The extension has seen the number of counselling rooms rise from three to five, as well as a sixth room which can also be used for youth one-to-one work.

A garden space has also been created along with disabled access.

Construction has been underway since last summer, but work hasn't made much disruption on the 4,000 visitors the charity sees each year.

Mrs Blackmore added: "Everyone really pulled together we're about investing our money into actual services so we didn't want to affect our reserves by hiring out rooms so we actually bared on through the chaos

"We've more or less been able to stay within the building during the works and it's been really great that our service users as well as the staff have really got on board and got on with it despite the disruption.

"Now it's a really nice facility. Its fresh and it's open.

"I think for the clients that come in here it's actually a nice place to be and that's what all this work has been about."

Mayor of Maidstone Dave Naghi said: "Mental health is something that hasn't been very high on political topics, but in the last few years people have become aware.

"To have something like this new facility is fantastic."

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