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Kitchen launches mental health support group

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
Annan and Eskdale
Kitchen launches mental health support group

AN Annan charity which has been providing lifeline support to people in crisis for nearly 14 years is stepping up its efforts with a new project.

Kate’s Kitchen is cooking up plans to launch ‘Stronger Together’ next month – a weekly support group for people struggling with mental health issues.

Due to the stress and worry many people have experienced through the pandemic, Kate’s Kitchen manager Hazel Thompson says this additional community support is needed now more than ever.

She said: “Our Stronger Together project was set up following an evaluation of Kate’s Kitchen services whereby 79 percent of our service users indicated they suffered mental health issues.

“We researched and found that the best way of self-management of mental health was to be given a platform to share experiences, advice and coping mechanisms.

“Although we already do this on a one to one basis, the group method works better as people are more open to talk with others experiencing similar issues.

“We have identified a volunteer facilitator for the group and hope to start the sessions on February 1. It would have been earlier, but for Covid.”

Established in 2008, Kate’s Kitchen provides a free hot meal and variety of support for local people in crisis and in need of additional support.

The aim is to enabling and empower them to take control of their lives and live independent, more fulfilling lives.

Clients are also encouraged to volunteer with Kate’s Kitchen to gain new skills and confidence, and also have the opportunity of accredited training courses to increase their chances of employment.

The organisation has seven paid members of staff and 15 volunteers, excluding its nine trustees.

It’s open four days a week and provides numerous services including a breakfast and lunch club, an affordable food project, arts and crafts group, volunteer and training opportunities, along with support for benefits, housing and budgeting issues.

The Stronger Together project has been backed by Dumfries and Galloway Council, being awarded £3750 in funding from Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee eight weeks ago.

Hazel Thompson worked as manager for Alcohol and Drugs Support Southwest Scotland for 14 years before joining Kate’s Kitchen in 2018.

She said: “The most rewarding part of my role is knowing that we are supporting people, such as seeing people come in sometimes in tears being in homeless accommodation, or with no money for food and we can support them by giving them a cup of tea, a listening ear, help to fill in forms to access housing and benefit entitlements and food parcels.

“When they leave they have a smile and a spring in their step.”

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