Published: 09:03, 18 October 2017
More than 80 people and more than a dozen performers came together for Listen Up, a poetry, music and art event held at the Turner Contemporary on Sunday.
Organised by SpeakUp CIC, an independent mental health support group serving east Kent, it was held as part of a programme of activities marking World Mental Health Day.
The event took place in spite of threats hanging over SpeakUpCIC’s future because of the planned withdrawal of funding it currently receives from Kent County Council and the NHS locally.
SpeakUpCIC have been informed funding to provide service user forums will end in March next year and new commissioning arrangements will be put in place.
Maggie Gallant, managing director of SpeakUpCIC, said: "The Listen Up poetry event really did showcase what SpeakCIC stand for; reaching out to the local community, giving vulnerable people a voice and campaigning about mental health.
"We are an independent community interest company that supports people in raising their voices.
"The organisation is managed and run by people who have all suffered from a mental health problem, we are a company that firmly believes in 'for the people, by the people' and we need to authorities to see the vital support we provide in helping improve people's lives for the better.
"We'd like to give thanks to the Turner Contemporary for hosting us for the event, all the people who took part and all the Speak CIC volunteers who helped make the day the roaring success that it was."
The afternoon was officially opened by the mayor of Margate, Cllr Rosamund Dixon, who spoke about the importance of tackling stigma around mental health and having people to listen to.
Clare Wright, a director of SpeakUp CIC, said: “It was really special seeing this number of people coming together, whether it was people who had just come along out of curiosity or people who had been involved in SpeakUp for some time.
“And rather than being a depressing thing, Sunday was actually very, very uplifting, just sharing stories and helping people to know they are not alone.
“The fact that Sunday brought some people out of isolation is really important to us.”
For a musical finale, members of the SpeakUp music group took to the floor for a communal rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
Ricky Gillies, who was one of the local poets performing at the event, explained: “It’s important to increase awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, and also to let people know that creative outlets are available, because someone who is struggling with their mental health often has an ability and a passion that hasn’t been nurtured before.”