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Linda Macleod, Hilary Sludden, and Rebecca Mahony. By SandiePhotos

Stornoway-based charity, Western Isles Association for Mental Health (WIAMH) has seen increased demand for its front-line services and has been awarded a grant of £9,771 from local wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) to support rising costs. 

Catch 23 offers daily drop-in sessions for adults experiencing mental health issues, their friends, families and carers and is delivered by a team of four Project Workers who have significant experience of supporting vulnerable people with mental health diagnosis and poor mental health and well-being.

Numbers of people seeking support from Catch 23 has doubled since 2019 figures with staff routinely seeing more than 20 people a day. 

For a small charity, the increased demand for their important services has been challenging, especially during the cost-of-living crisis and funding to retain the Catch 23 service has been a priority for Rebecca Mahony, WIAMH Project Manager.

“Western Isles Association for Mental Health know that financial times are tough for everyone just now, including for small local charities such as ourselves.  One of our key strengths as an organisation is the ability to remain flexible and responsive, adapting Catch 23 services in-line with members needs.

"We have naturally found ourselves evolving into a 'warm hub' to help members address impact of the cost-of-living crisis and on top of our mental health provision, we provide a hot, home-cooked lunch, four days a week, plus access to hot and cold drinks and snacks. In addition, we seek to offer a range of weekly therapeutic activities including, health walks; yoga; creative writing; music and alcohol and drug support alongside our weekly drop-in sessions.”

With the recent increased demand for service provision, Catch 23 are now routinely supporting double the number of people seeking mental health support, people experiencing a mental health crisis and the number of people with severe and enduring mental health issues using the service.  To safely support members, WIAMH has had to increase the ratio of Project Workers on duty to 3 per day leading to a drop in the number of weekly sessions that can run and an increase in Catch 23 staff salary costs.  To tackle these rising costs, community wind farm, Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) has confirmed a grant of £9,771 to help with the next 12 months of additional salary cost to meet demand at Catch 23.

Rebecca Mahony, WIAMH Project Manager said, “Local support from such a fantastic community asset as Point & Sandwick Trust means so much. PST are investing so much into our local community to help ensure many organisations, including ours, have a sustainable future.

"Here at WIAMH we believe EVERYONE'S mental health matters. This very timely grant award from PST will enable us to continue to retain our wonderful skilled, experienced team of trusted project workers to continue to support vulnerable members of our local community who are struggling with their mental health via our range of Catch 23 support activities. Demand for Catch 23 service provision has never been higher which makes this investment from PST even more precious."

DJ MacSween, General Manager at PST commented: “The WIAMH Project Workers of Catch 23 play a vital role in reducing stigma and social isolation associated with mental illness, providing a safe space for people to connect here in Lewis.  We are very pleased to award this community grant of £9,771 towards the increased costs of running the service, believing it to be a crucial in support of those suffering from mental health, their families and carers”.

Catch 23 runs Monday – Friday from their base in Bayhead Street, Stornoway. The service helps people manage their mental and physical health, gain and maintain positive well-being and routine and address loneliness and social isolation. WIAMH was recently confirmed as the chosen charity for this year's Midgie Biters Bike Rally in June 2024.