A young Skegness woman who says a group in the town which is closing turned her life around is appealing for help so that members can stay together.
Ellie Mitchell, 20, says she owes it to the Girls Friendly Society for ‘giving me the confidence to go on’ at a difficult period in her life and is an important lifeline to many in the resort.
However, the Skegness branch in Saxby Avenue is to close, along with the one in Great Yarmouth and Ellie is appealing for help.
The news comes during Mental Health Awareness Week, for which there has been focus on the pressures faced by young people and a rise in the numbers suffering stress.
The Girls Friendly Society was established in 1875 and is one of the oldest registered charities working to support girls and young women in England and Wales
Ellie said: “I have been a member for three years. I had depression and was told about the group at college. I found it difficult to talk about my depression but they helped me.
“A lot of members are in care and the group means a lot to all of us. It gives us confidence and empowers us to go on.”
Now a support worker for Walnut Care, Ellie hopes a way forward can be found. She said: “It’s giving back to people in need.”
The decision to close the GFS was taken in November last year when the Investment Committee considered the society’s poor financial performance. A spokesman said GFS has operated a deficit of between £400,000 and £600,000 that has been covered by funds drawn down from its investments.
The original intention was for GFS Projects to be self-sustaining with costs covered by local or regional funding. Unfortunately, this has not been achievable. It has become impossible for the Great Yarmouth and Skegness projects to continue mainly due to cuts in local authority funding, limited alternative funding sources, partners’ inability to pay for the services, and ineligibility to apply for trust and foundation funds.
Chair of the Board of Trustees, Iana Vidal, said: “Our first thoughts are with the girls and young women who, upon hearing the news, have expressed entirely justified feelings of sadness, disappointment and frustration.
“It is testament to the dedicated work of staff that the projects have been far more than just a service provider for you. The projects have provided a safe, reliable and non-judgmental place for you to come together and make friends.
“In fact, it is the friendships and close bonds formed at the projects, which made the closures such a difficult decision to make.
“The girls have come to view each other and staff like a second family. Whilst the projects will be ending in September, we know that the relationships can go on for many more years, and we sincerely hope they do.”