The team at Newark Mind includes (left to right) Jan Baxter; Emily Dalton; Sarah Robinson; Shirley Novak; Sian Mclachlan; and Jennifer Hardy. 260917TV1-1
The team at Newark Mind includes (left to right) Jan Baxter; Emily Dalton; Sarah Robinson; Shirley Novak; Sian Mclachlan; and Jennifer Hardy. 260917TV1-1

Funding cuts and a lack of focus meant not so long ago Newark Mind faced an uncertain future.

That has now changed as the independent charity, which  provides information, support and guidance on mental health issues, has a brighter outlook.

The charity was set up in 1982. It not only provides services to people who have had, or are experiencing, mental ill health, but also supports their families and those close to them.

The charity is managed by a board of volunteers.

Shirley Novak joined Mind as the chief executive officer three years ago, having been on the board for eight years.

Her contract was initially for six months, during which time she looked at the need for the service in the area, funding and sustainability.

“Opening the doors of Newark Mind to people who may be experiencing a bad day, week, month or year, as well as people with long-term struggles, means that people have somewhere to go to prevent, manage and recover from their mental health state,” she said.

Shirley said the charity’s approach was simple and based on the fact that everyone struggled with mental health at some point, whether through bereavement, trauma, relationship breakdown or just a bad day.

'The service has grown beyond recognition'

Jo Dowell, who has worked with the charity for ten years, manages the crisis and support service that provides one-to-one help for anyone struggling with their mental health who is in crisis.

The service can help with information and diagnosis support, and help people access local mental health services, benefits and financial support, as well as give emotional help and supportive listening.

The centre is managed by Jennifer Hardy, who co-ordinates activities and events both at the London Road base and at other venues.

Each month Newark Mind receives an average of 146 telephone inquiries, has 126 appointments in the centre, carries out 180 telephone befriending calls, and offers 118 people crisis information and administrative support.

“The service has grown beyond recognition and with the help of a passionate board of trustees and a great team of staff and volunteers Newark Mind hopes to be around for a long time,” Shirley said.

It's good to talk - listening service available

A supportive listening scheme, It’s Good To Talk, is offered as part of the charity’s community support service.

Newly-appointed supportive listening co-ordinator Emily Dalton said the aim was to provide friendly conversation and support either in person, or by telephone or email, to those struggling with or recovering from mental ill-health, as well as their partners, family members and friends.

“Contact can be weekly, monthly or a one-off call,” she said.

“Maybe you just need to know someone is there or perhaps you need a confidential ear to get you through a difficult time.”

Emily said they were happy to listen to personal concerns, worries or problems.

“It is a way of helping you feel heard, order your thoughts, air your problems and talk freely and confidentially without judgment.”

Album will share stories through song

Lottery money has been given to Newark Mind to pay for a project to create an album featuring up to ten songs.

The idea came from Shirley Novak whose background is in music production and, in particular, using music to communicate in all sorts of situations.

It is called From Lemons To Lemonade — lemons suggest sourness or difficulty in life while lemonade is a sweet drink.

Newark Mind will partner Superfly Recording studios in Ollerton and will work with professional musicians to produce an album of original music.

It will involve creative song-writing reflecting on experiences of mental health and using music production techniques to tell a story.

“Every person who accesses the services at Newark Mind has a unique and moving story around their journey through mental health including anxiety, bereavement, brain injury, substance abuse and/or a genetic disorder,” Shirley said.

They will work with a creative writer to find ways to tell their stories and turn them into songs.

It is planned the launch the album in February and are looking for a local sponsor for the event.

Anyone wanting to take part by sharing their experiences of living and struggling with mental health can get in touch via the charity’s facebook page or email at talknew

Highlighting wellbeing at work

World Mental Health Day, hosted by the World Federation of Mental Health, is today (Tuesday) and aims to raise awareness of what can be done to ensure people with mental health problems can live with dignity.

This year the theme is Workplace Wellbeing, so Newark Mind plans to take part by spending time at Vodafone in Newark and Siemens in Lincoln.

The charity is based at 56 London Road — next to Newark Congregational Church. 

Anyone wanting to volunteer or to find out more about Newark Mind’s services can call 01636 650228 or visit the Newark Mind website.