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We Interview: Stevie Rice, West Kent Mind - image

We Interview: Stevie Rice, West Kent Mind

This February marks the TN card's 3rd birthday and we are celebrating with a Justgiving fundraiser for West Kent Mind from 1st-12th February.  Ahead of our fundraiser, we speak to Stevie Rice, CEO of West Kent Mind, about how donations help their services in our community.


Stevie, what is the vision and mission of West Kent Mind in 2023?

2023 marks the 60th anniversary for West Kent Mind. This is an incredible milestone for us giving a chance to celebrate all that we have achieved with our community, reflect upon our journey to date and acknowledge those who have been a part of that journey including our clients, our partners and supporters. It’s also an opportunity to look to the future. These are challenging times for our charity, and our clients, and we will continue to work to provide the highest level of support possible for our community.

We believe that people’s lives are enriched through better mental wellbeing, and we offer support to get well, stay well and thrive with a wide range of services including affordable counselling, social and activity groups, a housing support programme, a drop in support café and specialist support programmes. We also have a varied training and workshops programme, and we continue to work to raise awareness of mental health in workplaces, schools and in the wider community, aspiring to better mental health and wellbeing for everyone in our West Kent community.

Have you seen an increase in the need for your services over the past year?

Our work has never been more important than over the last couple of years when the onset of the Covid pandemic increased demand for mental health services in Kent by 20% and we saw demand for our services increase by around 40%. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year, and with the ongoing impact of the pandemic, global events and the cost of living crisis it’s likely that this figure will rise. More people are reaching out to us for one to one and group support as they experience poor mental health and face challenging emotional issues. We have an experienced, dedicated and compassionate team and we are here to ensure that no one faces a mental health problem alone.

What resources do you provide for those who are struggling?

Our website is a good place to start. When you are managing a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, we know that having access to the right information and support is vital. On the website you will find details of all the groups and programmes we offer, self-help information and resources and signposts to other organisations.

We run a varied social and activity group programme which currently includes knitting, gardening, photography, art and a social chat room and have exciting plans this year to expand our Creative Minds programme to reach many more people. The Solace Café is a support service for people at risk of developing an emotional crisis. It runs twice a week online and in person at the Amelia in Tunbridge Wells on a Thursday afternoon, offering a safe space to meet others and access advice and support. Some of our current specialist support programmes include a mental health support group for the d/Deaf community, a parent and carer support group for young people at risk of self-harm or suicide, and a money management programme. So there really is a wide range of different targeted support available.

You depend on local support to keep West Kent Mind going, how is fundraising at the moment?

As an independent charity we rely on the generosity of our amazing local supporters to help us to continue to deliver these essential services. In the last year demand for our services has increased, but resources for our work have become scarcer and the funding environment has become even more challenging and competitive. Like most charities, the cost of living crisis has had a real impact on West Kent Mind, and these are very difficult times financially for everyone.

That’s why we value our supporters so much – whether it’s corporate partnerships with local businesses, community fundraisers or individuals giving regularly to our charity, each donation to West Kent Mind really does make a difference to the support we are able to offer local people. We are always delighted to hear about the ever more imaginative ways our supporters choose to fundraise for us! From swimming the channel to litter picking and bake sales, we are keen to support all our fundraising heroes, so please do get in touch with our team. We are also touched by all the very personal stories of why people choose to support West Kent Mind.

It has always been important to me that the TN card raises funds for and awareness of West Kent Mind as well as sharing openly about mental health.  What do member donations mean to the charity?

Our partnership with the TN card is extremely important to us and to date the TN card has raised £15,000 which is an extraordinary achievement. Every single penny of every pound makes a difference to us, it means we can keep supporting our community, so we want to say a huge thank you to the TN card, all TN card businesses and its members for their continued support. Through the TN card we are also able to raise valuable awareness about West Kent Mind and mental health, encouraging open and honest conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

How will the extra money raised through our birthday fundraiser be put to use?

The donations from the TN card have supported our affordable counselling programme enabling people from all across West Kent to access low-cost counselling so that money is no barrier to getting the right support. Some of the challenges that people have worked through with us include stress, anxiety, emotional and relationship issues, bereavement, depression and low self-esteem. We help clients navigate difficult life situations and the high demand for the service shows how much it is needed, and why every donation to our charity helps to make a life changing impact to people in our community.

How can people reach out for help?

Please do reach out to us if you or someone you know is struggling and going through hard times, we are here to support you, your friends, family and colleagues. Visit our website or you can call 01732 744950 Monday – Friday 9am-5pm

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