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Caithness News Bulletins December 2005

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Caithness Mental Health Support Group    
Tenth Anniversary of the Opening of The Haven.
Friday 16th December saw the 10th Anniversary of the official opening, by Colin Campbell of 'swaingan' Radio Caithness fame, of Caithness Mental Health Support Group's Drop In Centre, The Haven, in Bankhead Road, Wick.

The initiative to set up the Group came from the Social Work Dept. of Highland Regional Council which recognised the absence of any social work provision for people with mental illness within Caithness. Initially in December 1990 a Steering Committee was formed followed by the Group in October 1991.

The Group was originally based, from June 1992, in the former Kestrel marine premises at Wick Harbour. The opening of the premises being carried out by Robert Maclennan M.P. After local fund raising and the receipt of grants from statutory bodies and charitable trusts the Group moved to the purpose built facility in Bankhead Road.

Demand for the facilities and services of the Group in Wick continued to grow and in April 2003 Lord Maclennan returned to carry out the official opening of the extension of The Haven. In recent years the Centre has had over 6000 user visits per annum.

The Haven is essentially a social outlet - a friendly and supportive meeting place for those who may be experiencing isolation, unemployment or other social difficulties related to mental health problems.

It provides social support and encourages participation in a wide range of activities on offer at the Centre.
It is also a contact point for access to a range of other support agencies and services.

As well as those experiencing mental health problems, the Haven is open to their families, friends and carers.  The Haven has a kitchen/dining room, lounge area, crafts room, games room, utility room, computer/TV room.  The Centre operates on a self referral basis and is currently open thirty six and a half hours per week. It is open every day of the year. Not many other Centres, if any, do so
The Centre is staffed by a Centre Manager and eight part-time support workers. The current Manager, Mrs. Durrand, has been with the Group since 1992.

With Wick being nearly 100 miles from the nearest psychiatric hospital local people suffering from mental health problems depend heavily for support from the resources available locally. The Group are the main resource outwith the Community Mental Health Team.  The bulk of the Group's funding comes, as it has done since its inception, from the Mental Health Specific Grant. However this does not cover all the expenditure and the Group rely heavily on donations from charitable trusts and local bodies, its own fund raising activities and the Local Authority.

The day to day running of the Centre is the responsibility of the Centre Manager. Business and Centre Management reports are submitted to the Management Committee ( i5 members including four users ). The Group is a company limited by guarantee and is a registered charity. The four office bearers serve as the Company Directors.

For more information contact the Centre Manager on 01955-605264 or pop along to the Centre.

The Group also operate a similar Centre, The Stepping Stones, in Thurso. Tel No. 01847-892177.