Letter: Mental health

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Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service welcomes the move to establish a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Network, as reported on the front page of your paper last week and covered in the special report as well.

I’d welcome the opportunity to clarify a few points about the former Harrogate District Mental Health Forum which is referred to in your articles. It was Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service (HARCVS) which hosted this forum for some 20 years, from 1995 until March 2015. For many years our charity received a small grant (less than £2,000) from North Yorkshire County Council to meet the costs of running this well supported forum, which met five times per year and brought voluntary and community sector organisations together with staff involved in mental health services from the local authorities, the NHS and the emergency services. The support from NYCC ended in March 2014 and two private donations were received which enabled six further meetings to take place. We were unable to secure any replacement funding after this point and the forum met for the last time in March 2015. This was a source of disappointment to us but we were unable to support the forum without the necessary funds to enable this to happen. There was never an issue about having a suitable venue to meet as there are always meeting rooms here at Harrogate Community House, but they are not free of charge.

Until the end of March this year we also received a small grant from NYCC to host the Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing Partnership, but unfortunately this has also now ended and we find ourselves again in the position of having to end a well-supported and valued forum whilst we try and find alternative sources of funding.

In the meantime we continue to support and host our Harrogate District Voluntary and Community Sector Chief Officers and Chairs Group and regularly cover health and wellbeing issues on the agenda. For example the last meeting was attended by officers from both the local Clinical Commissioning Group and the NYCC Living Well service.

As long as there is a locally based CVS in the Harrogate District we will do everything we can to enable local voluntary and community groups to have their say and seek to influence key decision makers on wide range of issues. Doing this well requires careful planning, attention to detail, good communications and ensuring strong connections and positive relationships with local partners. We have helped promote the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Network and will continue to support the efforts to make it a useful and relevant local forum. However you will understand that it was somewhat disappointing to read inaccurate information about the previous forum. Whilst it is good news that NYCC are helping to re-establish a network, it is frustrating that two valued local voluntary sector led networks only came to an end because NYCC stopped supporting them.

Karen Weaver
Chief executive, HARCVS