Saved my life

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Under The Umbrella -

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.


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

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