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WHISC has seen a 64% rise in the number of women accessing its mental health services since the start of the pandemic and it has already helped almost 3,000 women this year.
But rainwater coming in through the roof of its building on Bold Street has flooded a top room, leaving it out of action at a time when it’s most needed.
Now WHISC has launched a fundraiser to help cover the costs of repair to the roof so it can get back to full capacity again as mental health referrals soar as a result of Covid.
“We have very little money for anything and pretty much all we have goes on our services users,” explains Kelly Teeboon, fundraising and support officer for the charity. “We’ve had a quote on the roof repair of £6,000 which probably wouldn’t seem like that much to some organisations but if we have to take that out of our reserves then that’s £6,000 taken away from the services we provide.
“We still need a secure roof and a secure building, and it would be compromised if we left it any longer, but for us £6,000 would fund a mental health worker for six months’ worth of sessions so that’s why we’re asking for help.”
WHISC has been supporting women’s health in Liverpool for 37 years since it was first set up by a group of women who recognised a lack of provision in the city.
“They decided to set up their own charity and started on a bus, going round doing educational classes and outreach,” says Kelly.
“Since then we’ve worked with so many community groups in Liverpool, and over the last few years we’ve moved our focus onto mental health because that’s where there’s been the biggest increase in the demand.”
The charity has two mental health workers based at its offices, along with a small team who run the organisation and raise funds for it to carry on, and volunteers – mostly former service users who want to give back after their own experience.
When Covid hit in March, Kelly says their fund-raising efforts were forced to stop, so instead all the staff – who are trained in crisis intervention and mental health first aid – switched roles to help with mental health support.
“We stopped all of our fundraising because of the pressure that was on our mental health workers and we were doing back to back phone and Zoom calls every day from home with women who were in distress,” says Kelly.
Usually WHISC has four rooms for one-to-one listening ear therapy as well as a larger training room which is used for exercise classes and educational classes.
But one has been out of use because it doesn’t have a window so can’t be used post-Covid, and another is now too badly flood damaged to be used.
“We’re basically two rooms down so we’re really having to be flexible in trying to cope with the increasing demand,” adds Kelly.
“We’ve been using our office, our mental health workers have been having walk and talk meetings with people in the park and I’ve even been doing Zoom meetings from the downstairs phone cupboard!
“But we just do whatever we can to keep the services going because we know how much they’re needed.”
WHISC does receive small grants from givers like the Big Lottery and Steve Morgan Foundation, but most of its funds come from donations, community fund-raising and events.
Now back open again after restrictions, it has started a Crowdfunder to hopefully cover the cost of repairs to the roof and room below.
“We’re essentially the only all-women’s service in the city and we don’t have any criteria for the women who use our service – we never turn anyone away, we will always work with all women,” says Kelly.
“I always joke we’re like the Harry Potter room of requirements – nobody really sees us but if you need us, we just appear!
“That’s why we’re mustering up the community to help us put this room back in use – and let people know we’re there. Even if 6,000 people give a pound, that would get us there.”
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