Mental health charity Ipsum in Swindon has been awarded £36,000 from our Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund to help cover its running costs to allow it to stay open, increase its volunteer counsellors and expand its services online to cope with the extra calls for help.

The group provides low-cost one-to-one counselling as well as art, music and writing therapy groups. Chief executive Julie Mattinson said: “We are seeing a significant increase in frontline workers coming to us during the pandemic because they are struggling. They are under relentless strain at work as well as having to manage their home lives and they are just finding it hard to cope with everything.”

With more than 400 clients on its books, the group fears the uncertainty of the third lockdown is having a far greater effect on people than the previous two. Julie Mattinson continued: “The impact on people has just been tremendous, we have fewer hours of daylight and people don’t feel like going out if the weather is bad. Us still being here has made a massive difference to people. A lot of our service users have said that the new strain of the virus and not knowing when we are going to come out of lockdown is having a huge effect on them. The uncertainty is causing so much concern.”

The crippling anxiety and isolation has brought many of the group’s users to crisis point. “Within 24 hours last week we had three different counsellors ring us to say their clients were suicidal and had made a plan. Because of this grant, we were able to be there for them, put the right safeguarding measures in place and make a real difference. Our staff and our counsellors are working much harder and we are aware that we have to take care of their mental health as well. We have a fabulous team here and we need to look after them,” she said.

The grant will help the group continue to expand and adapt its services. “The fact we have had this money means we don’t have to furlough anyone so we can still be here for the people who need us. We are increasing our volunteer counselling provision to take it to 40 this year because of the demand. All of this can go ahead because of the funding we have had.”

The group has introduced online community chat rooms for users and people referred by partner organisations. “They are facilitated by us and are sessions where people can talk about anything,” said Mrs Mattinson. “We want to keep everyone safe so if there are additional needs they can go offline to talk to someone.

“We are finding lots of new ways of connecting with our community. We have extended our work to the Olive Tree Café and TWIGs and we are working with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust organising mindfulness walks. We expect demand to keep growing throughout 2021. Wiltshire Community Foundation’s grant has allowed us to not only continue our service but to enhance it and to keep growing it for the climate we are in.”

Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver said: “Ipsum has adapted brilliantly to the demands of this pandemic and to the needs of local people. Its services are a vital lifeline to so many so we are delighted to continue our support for it and enable the charity to expand its services.

“Our fund is there to help groups who are the bedrock of our communities tackle immediate need and find their way out of this crisis, that’s why we need the public’s support so badly.”

You can donate to our Coronavirus Response Appeal here.


Back to news