Mid Staffs Mind saw a year of change in 2014-15, with new services being trialled, a move of premises and a complete redesign of our peer support groups.
The early part of the year focused on forging links and recognising our volunteers, with a Support Staffordshire Celebration event at Perton. The day provided ample opportunity for networking with key groups such as Staffordshire Community Council, Quest and South Staffs Volunteer Centre and ended with awards being given to some of our hard working volunteers to recognise their achievements and continued support of Mid Staffs Mind.
In June 2014 Linda Newton, who has previously worked with the organisation in a variety of roles, was appointed as Partnership Co-Ordinator. Mid Staffs Mind would like to give thanks to Linda for her success in fundraising and forging links with external organisations during her time with us. Her efforts included giving talks to the Rotary Club, making connections with CAMH & SSSFT, a sponsored walk for World Mental Health Day and organising a successful car boot sale to raise funds. Linda was well regarded by external partners and members of the public in her fundraising endeavours and had a wealth of new ideas to help develop the organisation. In December 2014 Linda left Mid Staffs Mind and the organisation is extremely grateful for her hard work and dedication.
In 2014 we introduced a £1 subscription fee to our peer support groups to promote sustainability and help to cover costs. Service users responded positively to this change and Mid Staffs Mind would like to thank volunteers for helping with this transition.
Creativity has always been a key theme in maintaining mental health and this year was no exception. The Walnuts, a musical group formed at our peer support groups, played for SSSFT in September, and a new Creativity Group was established in Rugeley. The group was successful, with a notable ‘Mind’s Got Talent’ competition in December of 2014. With a redesign of our services this group was moved to Stafford and continues to attract interest.
Many new experimental groups were established during the course of the year, such as Ecotherapy in Cheslyn Hay, a Rural outreach group, and a Men’s Group in Stafford. However, due to varied success, fluctuations in volunteer availability and the drive to redesign and streamline our services these were closed. The changes to our groups continued, with the Badminton & Work Clubs, and peer support in Cannock being discontinued, as changes in Management brought a shift in our strategic focus. On reflection, the move away from our traditional base in Cannock has been reviewed and we are now keen to reopen a peer support service in the town.
The start of the new year brought great change at Board level, with our long serving Chair, Anthony Downes, moving to pastures new. Anthony spent 10 years as a Director with a professional background in mental health. He brought great enthusiasm for the sector, invaluable specialist knowledge and connections, and he was well regarded by both service users and staff alike. Anthony’s hands-on management approach has left a gap in the organisation, and Mid Staffs Mind would like to extend its sincerest gratitude for his exceptional effort and commitment to the organisation.
The new year was a time of great change, when the organisation moved its head office from Park Plaza in Cannock to Dunston Business Village in Stafford, which had a marginal affect on costs. Fundraising efforts continued, with a highly successful football match organised by a service user in memory of his late wife.
Our peer support groups in Stafford and Wombourne are thriving, and we would like to extend our thanks to those who work tirelessly to ensure continued operation of these, and to promote Mid Staffs Mind’s objectives in our local community.