We’re coming to the end of 2020 and let’s face it, not many will be too sad to wave goodbye to what’s been very peculiar, isolating, mental health-challenging, anxiety-inducing, boredom-triggering and sometimes very sad and painful year! Here’s hoping that 2021 brings about new hope and a new lease of “normal” life to all of us. With talks of a Covid vaccine getting closer to completion, there seems to be at least some light at the end of this pandemic tunnel!
2020 has also been an incredibly busy year for us as a mental health charity, but I’m proud to say that, as a team, we’ve really risen to the challenge! From completely changing the way we work, switching our activities online and training people to use Zoom whilst also ensuring that we support people who are finding the digital world difficult, to introducing new online services such as the Surrey Virtual Wellbeing Hub, Virtual Safe Haven and many mental health awareness social media campaigns (such as our Kindness video for Mental Health Awareness Week and more recently our Men’s Minds Matter campaign), I’m very proud of my colleagues for their resilience, their hard work and throwing themselves into this new challenge to ensure we support our clients to the very best of our abilities. I’d like to thank every single one of them for their selflessness and commitment to tirelessly serving our mission and vision.
It is important to mention the Safe Haven team who have continued to run the face-to-face service throughout the lockdowns and pandemic to support people in mental health crisis, despite the risks that it presented for them and their families. They will also work over the Christmas period to ensure we are open 365 days a year, sacrificing family time to support others.
I’d also like to thank our many brilliant facilitators as well as Trustees, Patron and volunteers who have continued to offer their support to us throughout the year, we couldn’t do it without them!
And last but not least, we want to give our heart-felt thanks to our many partner organisations, our regular donors, our funders as well as Rosebery Housing Association, Swan Shopping Centre in Leatherhead and Betchworth Golf Club for choosing us as their 2020 charities. Their support (financial and other) has been really crucial to us!
I know that the holiday season is not always an easy time for people experiencing mental health challenges. There is often a discrepancy between society’s expectations that we should all feel happy and grateful at Christmas and the reality of mental ill health which can bring feelings of emptiness, sadness and loneliness. This Christmas is going to be particularly tough as we might not be able to spend it with all our family or friends. I encourage every single one of you to tap into all the wellbeing strategies that you’ve learnt, show yourself love and compassion if you ever feel down, and to reach out for help when it gets too much. We will operate a reduced service to allow our staff some much needed rest but there are many mental health services you can use during the holiday season.
I’d like you to remember that MFT will continue to support you no matter how long it takes to solve this pandemic. I’d also like to remind you how incredibly strong and resilient you have all been this year! I’m really proud of all our clients for supporting each other (we’ve seen many acts of kindness), for continuing to care for yourselves, for taking on the challenge of switching to online activities (which might have been out of your comfort zone) as well as sharing your artwork and stories with us to show the world that mental wellbeing really does matter.
There are many exciting projects we’re working on which will allow us to support even more people in Surrey in 2021 and to offer more tailored support too. We’ll soon be launching our Service User Network (SUN) peer support groups for people with strong emotions, we’re developing a Depression Support Group and we’ll hopefully be able to co-produce better mental health services for men thanks to our Men’s Minds Matter campaign. So watch this space!
In the meantime, best season’s greetings and see you all in 2021!
Patrick Wolter, CEO, Mary Frances Trust