Welcome to the Spring 2018 edition of Network News.  The daffodils are showing off their beautiful blooms and the birds are starting to make their nests, spring is in the air – a new beginning of nature’s seasons, and so too is it a new beginning for the Network.

South Staffordshire Network for Mental Health was formed in 2000 to be voice for service users of mental health services and to signpost them to where they could obtain help.  Latterly this service was called ‘Your Voice’ and was funded by Staffordshire County Council; this included the production of this publication, Network News, along with our podcast and our volunteer programme. Unfortunately the County Council have decided not to extend our contract beyond 31st of March 2018 so the branded ‘Your Voice’ service will end. This has meant that some difficult decisions have had to be made and we have had to restructure our organisation to reflect the loss of funding. Keith Stanley, our Business Manager has unfortunately left the organisation, we wish him well for the future and thank him for all his hard work and support whilst he was with us.

However, just as in nature, South Staffordshire Network for Mental Health has a new beginning. Although we no longer have the ‘Your Voice’ funding the Trustees are adamant that we continue to provide a voice for mental health service users and to provide a signposting service.  You will therefore continue to receive Network News and be able to listen to the podcast on our website.  We are also going to develop and extend our volunteer programme so there are exciting times ahead with new volunteering opportunities. If you have volunteered with us in the past or if you would like to find out more about our volunteering programme (for which we have Investors for Volunteers status) please contact the office.

We are pleased to announce that Gemma Giles, who was the Participation Worker, working on the Your Voice contract, has now been appointed as Project Co-ordinator for the Network to lead us through these exciting times. We wish Gemma every success in her new role.

We would also urge you to sign up for our Toolbox service which is a self help guide tailored to the individual. It will take about an hour of your time but will be well worth it to help you through difficult times.  Phone the office to book your appointment NOW!

By Maureen Turfrey, Chairman.