Thanet mental health support group awarded £29k grant for online skills project

Online blackmail dangers

Thanet-based SpeakUpCIC, an independent mental health support group serving East Kent, has received a £29,000 grant.

The money has been raised by community interest company HealthWhole through The Health Lottery.

The funding will allow SpeakUpCIC to run a digital inclusion drop-in service each week, where people living with mental ill-health can get advice and support. There will also be a weekly programme of more formal training workshops with the aim of giving people skills in online access and financial capability.

The Government’s digital strategy, published this year, recognises that a significant part of the population remains digitally excluded. One in 10 adults has never used the internet and many more are missing out on the opportunities the digital world offers, whether through lack of connectivity, skills or motivation. This is turn can exacerbate social exclusion, financial hardship and isolation.

Maggie Gallant (left) with Margate mayor Cllr Dixon, escort and CIC members at the recent Listen Up event

Managing director of SpeakUpCIC, Maggie Gallant, said: We have found that there are a number of people who are finding it difficult to cope with the pace of change of modern technology in terms of things like benefit claims and banking and accessing healthcare advice and appointments.

“People living with poor mental health can also be vulnerable to online scamming. Our project will help give local people the skills and information to better access the services they need as well as helping them protect themselves from scams and fraudsters.”

The new service began last month and funding of £29,286 has been received to allow it to run for two years.

The grant is a welcome boost following the planned withdrawal of funding the group currently receives from Kent County Council and the NHS.

The group has been informed that funding to provide service user forums will end in March 2018 and new commissioning arrangements will be put in place.