No resolution over cuts threat

CLIENTS of a Banbridge mental health charity have been left in limbo after a meeting to discuss the service’s future failed to reach agreement last week.

MindWise in Rathfriland Street, which deals with around 20 patients a day, faces service cuts after the Southern Health and Social Care Trust ordered it to slash its costs by 40 per cent and reduce its opening hours.

The charity’s headquarters met with Trust chiefs last Wednesday to discuss the centre’s future, after being informed of the planned cuts earlier in the year.

One client who spoke to the Leader last week said the service had been “a lifeline” to her in the 14 years since she had been referred there. Service users are provided with a hot meal and are able to socialise with others.

Deputy Chief Executive of MindWise Anne Doherty said they typically provide services to the hard-to-reach in the area and said cuts could have a devastating effect.

Following Wednesday’s meeting Ms Doherty moved to reassure clients nothing would change before Christmas.

She said, “MindWise remain in negotiations with the SHSCT to review the current model of service provision aiming to move to a position where we are best meeting the needs of the clients in the Banbridge and wider SHSCT area.

“We would like to give assurances at this time that no cuts will be taking effect over the Christmas period and that MindWise and the SHSCT remain committed to meeting the needs of our clients.”

A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said, “Negotiations with MindWise are ongoing and we cannot comment further.”