King’s Lynn woman ‘terrified’ at prospect of mental health support cuts

Hannah Palfrey (29) Speaking out against cuts to "Together UK" wellbeing worker / mental health services.
Hannah Palfrey (29) Speaking out against cuts to "Together UK" wellbeing worker / mental health services.

A woman from Lynn has described cuts to a mental health service in West Norfolk as “devastating”.

Hannah Palfrey, 29, said she is “terrified” at the prospect of losing her support worker, provided by charity Together for Mental Wellbeing, which she has been told will happen in August.

But Norfolk County Council has said it will ensure people with further needs will have these met after the service closes.

Ms Palfrey said: “I have been told that the funding is being cut because this service is no longer ‘necessary’ in this area, but I rely heavily on my support worker.

“I have been very ill at times and without them I would have probably been hospitalised.”

At present, the service provides Ms Palfrey with someone to help with tasks such as phone calls and filling in forms, which she says can cause her anxiety.

“These people are a lifeline. I don’t know how many other people this will affect, but these people are desperately needed.”

The charity offers a ‘floating service’ in Norfolk which “aims to support people to live as independently as possible in their local community” – it is lower level of this service which will stop receive funding at the end of August.

Ms Palfrey, who has a young daughter, said that this will leave many in West Norfolk without the help they need.

She said people with mental health problems who are at the lowest level of the spectrum are helped by the Wellbeing service, and those who are at the highest level are looked after by places like the Fermoy Unit at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but she said there will now be a gap for a “huge group of people” who are the middle range.

“They will now be dropped and will have to get better by themselves. It’s horrendous,” she added.

“The idea that I’m going to lose support is devastating.

“It affects every part of your life and I’ve got a young daughter to look after.

“But there are people who are much closer to an edge than I am.”

The support service include house visits, which are invaluable to people like Ms Palfrey.

“My support worker is my access to humanity – my friends and family do come over, but they are not trained in mental health.

“As far as I know, there is no one else who does home visits who specialises in mental health.”

But Norfolk County Council has insisted it will continue its work to support people with mental health needs.

A spokesman said: “Norfolk County Council spends approximately £1m per day on social care in Norfolk and the budget will see this investment increase in 2017/18.

“Although we are investing more money in social care the costs of rising demand and of providing that care means that savings still have to be found.

“Following consultation in the latter part of 2016, it is reducing the funding for preventative housing support services to meet a priority to target investment to people who require care.

“This means that Norfolk County Council funding for housing-related floating support services will significantly reduce.

“The lower level mental health floating support service provided by Together for Mental Wellbeing, will no longer receive funding from August 31st 2017.

“Funding will continue for the Complex Needs Service which is also provided by Together.

“Norfolk County Council is working with Together and other organisations to help ensure that people with outstanding support needs will have these met after the closure of the Together service.”

Cashain David, director of operations and development at Together for Mental Wellbeing said: “At Together for Mental Wellbeing, we focus on people’s strengths and believe everyone can and should be supported to live the life they want to lead, no matter how unwell they are or how complex their needs.

“We see beyond diagnoses and approach people as whole individuals with a range of circumstances and needs: social, emotional, physical, spiritual and economic.

“Our Norfolk Floating Support Service provides support to adults (aged over 18) with mental health needs – including those with severe mental health problems and complex needs – to access and maintain accommodation.

“We work with people to identify and make changes in a variety of areas of their lives in order to improve their wellbeing.

“Our aim is to support people to live as independently as possible in their local community and make the most of the community resources available in Norfolk.

“Each individual we work with influences and shapes the support they and others receive from us. We value people’s lived experience of mental distress and believe this makes them the experts in what works best for them. We ensure the people we support lead the way, not just in their own support but in decisions at every level about our service design and delivery.”