When you are confronted by the death someone you love as a result of mental health issues it is devastating and this was certainly the case for Barbra Swain and her husband when they lost their son in 1995.
It was a few years later that they looked around and decided to ‘do something’ and they donated $6,000 to the Richmond Clinic in Lismore for therapeutic things for patients.
‘The staff asked us if we could help with providing care packs and clothing for people that the police had brought in. We did this for a few years but it became far too much work by a few years later,’ said Barbara.
It was then that she found herself at a Rotary function where she was able to ask for help with the work she was doing.
‘About 12 people signed up and we formed the Mental Health Support Group (MHSG). We help look after people in the community who are down on their luck because of mental health issues. The organisation has grown and grown and in 2011 we became a registered charity.’
The group now assists people throughout the Northern Rivers Health District that covers health services from Tweed Heads to Grafton.
‘While the hospitals and NGOs help people start recovery and with their daily living at Mental Health Support Group we provide the comfort like a sofa, the pots and pans – everything, as they start on their road to recovery,’ said Barbara.
$60,000 for a new van
Collecting donations and delivering goods will now be made much simpler with a $60,000 grant to buy a volunteer van from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.
‘Previously we had to rely on volunteers using their own cars and trailer to collect and deliver things or the op-shops that were supplying goods delivering them,’ said Barbara.
’Now we are masters of our own fate. The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation really have no idea how much this will help us.’
Donations and volunteering
As they continue to grow the MHSG are keen for new people to get involved and volunteers their time to help people in need said Barbara.
If you have furniture and household goods to donate or would like to volunteer you can email MHSG [email protected] to provide donations.
‘The next thing we are looking to do is build our own storage shed,’ said Barbara.
So if anyone has a spare piece of land they would like to donate the MHSG would be thrilled at the chance to grow what they are doing in supporting people in our community on their way to recovery.