£160k improvement to mental health charity’s building to offer ‘the standard that people deserve’

Advance Brighter Futures (ABF), Wrexham, has been awarded £145,818 by Welsh Government’s Community Facilities Programme towards the total cost of £160,361 to enhance and extend its current premises; providing additional one-to-one rooms and a fully-accessible toilet, refit kitchen facility, install enhanced level 4 certified fire alarm system and create visitor parking.

Advance Brighter Futures is a small mental health charity in Wrexham, housed in its own premises since 2000. The charity supports over 700 people in and around Wrexham and Flintshire each year, with up to 100 people accessing the community building every week (pre-pandemic).

“A huge difference to the service and support we’re able to provide”

ABF Chief Officer Lorrisa Roberts said: “The demand for mental health support has been increasing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and we’re expecting this to continue. Before lockdown, people would come to the building, and we’d have no appropriate one-to-one facilities available to support them. We were running out of space and had to use unsuitable rooms to meet with people seeking support.

“Obviously, that wasn’t acceptable. Quality support is central to everything. The welcome people get, and the atmosphere we create for people who need help and support, makes a huge difference. Our building doesn’t reflect the standard that people deserve, nor the environment we want to create. A poor environment contributes to the negativity that people feel when in distress or crisis.

“This Community Grant Funding will make a huge difference to the service and support we’re able to provide. We hope the completion of the work will coincide with us being able to fully resume all our face-to-face support. We’ve worked with an architect to design the very best use of space.

“We’re converting a conservatory into a two-storey extension, housing three one-to-one therapy rooms. This was previously our main accessible one-to-one meeting room, but the weather was a big constraint: when the weather was bad, we couldn’t use it due to the rain hammering on the roof; in summer, it was too hot, and in winter, it was too cold.

“We’ll also use funding to upgrade our very dated kitchen and bathroom, and to create a visitor car park.

“Small charities make a huge difference to local communities, reaching people that sometimes mainstream services don’t reach. The distance between decision makers and the people who need services, is very small. Community organisations are active in local community events, and local people direct their neighbours to small local charities, like us.

“This conversion will make a huge difference to us and to the individuals we support. As a small charity, individuals are important to us. Now we’ll be able to create people-friendly premises to match the people-centred, quality mental health support we deliver.”

“Vital help and support where it is most needed”

Welsh Government Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and recent flooding has highlighted some specific challenges within communities, like mental health and social well-being. Shared commitment reinforces vibrant, caring communities, where citizens are bound together by close ties of co-operation and team work, inequalities are reduced, and the most vulnerable among us feel supported.

“The Welsh Government’s Community Facilities Programme supports some fantastic local projects to evolve and grow to meet the specific needs of their area.

“Offering grants like these to community-led projects helps to improve much needed facilities, which play such an important part in the lives of people throughout Wales. I want to thank the third sector organisations and volunteers who work so hard within their communities to deliver vital help and support where it is most needed – your efforts are inspiring.”

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