Saved my life
Yet, says manager Anna DeBrauwer, it is needed more than ever. “There is no doubt we are seeing more people with mental health issues and if we were not here, there would be more strain on health and social services and admissions,” she explains.
“Yet we don’t get much recognition for that when we come to apply for support and grants.”
And financial support is very much what the charity needs since 75% of its public funding was cut three years ago.
It has running costs of around £80,000 a year and increasingly relies on generous local businesses, including supermarkets, and individual benefactors to keep going.
Anna said: “We are very grateful to those businesses like Dodgems and Floss who have got behind us. But I imagine what we could do if we had more funding because I would love to be able to develop more workshops and create employment opportunities.”
For now the centre can only afford to open weekdays from 10am until 4pm.
Which is still a godsend to clients like recovering drug addict Kim Groombridge whose life was on a downward spiral until she came to Umbrella.
The 46-year-old grandmother says it inspires her to get up in the morning and now she has set up a group at the centre to help others in a similar position.
“It’s given me a purpose and has been vital to my recovery,” she said.
For more about the centre, go to www.canterburyumbrella. co.uk.
Tim Jackson, left, and Sam Mousoli have become firm friends since meeting at the centre
Preparing lunch are volunteers Carla White, Erin Clelland and Caroline Clark and chef Robin Mcgirr