CMHA branch taking up new premises
A fundraising campaign is being launched to assist with costs of renovating new facilities for the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“We are recognizing that we need more space. We are bursting at the seams,” said Susan Henderson, executive director of the Colchester East Hants branch.
The branch currently operates out of two separate spaces, with its administrative “hub,” Friendship Club and some programming conducted at 574 Prince St. The Soup Café, which house’s the group’s support and employment programs, is at 563 Prince St. Still other initiatives are held elsewhere.
It’s been recognized more people are going about their daily lives “who really need more support than they are comfortable reaching out for, or that they are indicating,” Henderson said. To address those needs and bring all services under one roof, the association recently purchased the former Bargain Shop retail building on Prince Street.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be large and open and beautiful in the centre,” Henderson said, with separate sections for a variety of programming.
“For instance, you might come in for a really delicious bowl of soup (from Soup Café) and then you see that we’re working with sea glass down in the centre table.”
Henderson hopes the new environment will encourage more people to sign up for the therapeutic art works program or other initiatives while seeking help they might otherwise have pursued.
“So we’re hoping that having that kind of open space will be really conducive to people expressing curiosity and taking part,” she said.
“We are developing a full spectrum of programs around what people really need in terms of how much mental health has impacted their daily life.”
The new facility has floor space of 14,000 sq. ft. Of that, 10,400 sq. ft. is to be renovated in the initial phase at a cost of $2 million.
A second phase is proposed to provide transitional housing for people who need it.
“That is a huge need in our community for folks that are transitioning from either the Nova Institution (for women) or from the psychiatric unit at the hospital here and just trying to find their way, getting their feet settled, getting back on their own.”
Colchester County Council has $100,000 to the project over 10 years and other funding sources are to be announced during the fundraising launch.
“It’s an old building and it needs a substantial amount of work,” Henderson said. “But we’re willing to do that and we know the community will stand behind us so that somebody who is struggling can just walk in without a diagnosis and immediately get some help that they need.”