Moodswings is a well established community based voluntary mental health charity based in Manchester. It was founded and developed by our Chairman Tom McAlpine OBE in 1999. Tom worked for over 50 years in mental health inspriring numerous people to make the most of their lives despite their mental health problems. He also literally saved the lives of many people in despair.
Tom’s dream was to extend our offices and build a community café with respite accommodation. In February 2017 we were granted planning permission to extend and our fundraising towards that project began. Tragically, Tom died suddenly on March 2nd 2017. He left us all the plans and ideas for his dream and we are determined to fulfil it for his sake and for the sake of the neighbourhood who would benefit.
Five years ago after extensive fundraising we were able to purchase the freehold on our own building and refurbish it. This gave the charity much more security and stability. We would now like to build on that stability and develop our services further so that we can serve the whole community.
The extension would provide the opportunity for the charity to address three ways in which we can respond to needs identified in the local community.
1. The need for a local, easily accessible source of advice, information and support for people affected by mental health difficulties. This would be achieved by opening a Neighbourhood Café that could be accessed informally and would be staffed by volunteers trained to provide this service. The café would also act as an informal meeting place for local groups such as young mothers or older people.
2. The need for occasional short term accommodation available to people who are in crisis and need non-medical respite.
3. The need to extend our well established mental health Recovery programme to include preparation for employment.
The proposed extension would comprise a small neighbourhood café on the ground floor. It would be promoted as an informal gateway to advice, information and support for local people.
We are aware that loneliness is a major factor in mental illness. City dwellers in particular can suffer from severe mental health problems due to lack of community cohesion. It is no longer the case that people live in close family units. When people suffer trauma or stress then they do not always have a close community around them to turn to for support. Bereaved people can feel particularly lonely and isolated, as can older people or people with disabilities or severe mental health issues. We want to be the community and the friends and family for these people and to put back the feeling of community into an area which is increasingly seeing new apartments being built but no community facilities to go alongside them.
We also aim to increase volunteering in the area and to improve the lives of people with mental health problems by creating a training programme which will help them to work in the hospitality industry by volunteering in our café and progressing to NVQ level training.
We strongly feel that emotional distress can be overcome and people with mental health problems can lead full, active lives. With our support people can return to work, increase their social lives and reconnect with the community.
By opening up our building to the community we also want to ‘normalise’ emotional health problems and encourage people to talk about their mental health and support each other rather than seeing it as something which does not apply to them or which must be kept a secret.
Tom was an example of real Recovery, having overcome his own problems with mental health. A justgiving page in Tom’s memory has raised almost £8000. With a donation from Jewsons we could achieve our goal and make Tom’s dream a reality, allowing him to continue to support people the way he did in life.