Brighter Futures axing three vital services leaving these Stokies nowhere to go

Three vital services for vulnerable residents are being axed. Brighter Futures is ending its Clubhouse Network, Safer Space, and Helpline from 21 June after 24 years.

The Clubhouse Network runs throughout Stoke-on-Trent - with bases at The Observatory in Hanley; The American in Cobridge; and at Meir Community Education Centre - and provides immediate access to mental health support and social activities.

The Staffordshire-wide Helpline is open all year round and Safer Spaces is a referral service which has prevented patients being admitted to hospital.

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Sarah Campbell has been attending the network for two years.

She said: “We just cannot believe it - that place is like a lifeline for me. It has kept me out of hospital so many times when I’ve been in a really, really bad place. Just having them on the other end of the phone and attending the groups makes a massive difference. To go from all that to nothing in three weeks, I just can’t get my head around it at all and it worries me now.”

Brighter Futures has blamed the decision on funding being removed from the end of June. The charity has not provided a statement to StokeonTrentLive. But StokeonTrentLive has seen its letter to users.

It states: “We know that The Clubhouse Network has provided real benefit to you and we have not taken lightly the decision to close the service at such short notice. The reason Brighter Futures is having to close the service is due to the ending of the funding that has enabled this service to run.

“On 29 March, Brighter Futures received written confirmation from Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care Board (ICB) that the funding for our three mental health contracts will only be extended until 30 June. At this point, future levels of funding from the ICB for mental health services remains unclear and they have been unable to give us any answers as to their plans and what they are looking to fund in the future. Brighter Futures therefore cannot (and does not) expect to receive any further continuation of funding to enable us to continue these important and much-valued services.”

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB has denied being to blame for the ending of the services.

A Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB spokesman said: “Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB is undertaking a review of all its voluntary sector grants to ensure all investments are serving the needs of our population. At present, no notice has been given to any organisation to withdraw funding or stop services. Therefore, any decision to close services is down to the individual providers”

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