Demand for Axminster mental health charity’s help at an all time high

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:48 20 April 2020

Arc counsellor Catherine Davies with trustee Andrew Moulding (left) and Axminster GP Dr Barry McKenna,

Arc counsellor Catherine Davies with trustee Andrew Moulding (left) and Axminster GP Dr Barry McKenna,


Axminster-based mental health charity Arc is reporting a big increase in demand for its services during the coronavirus outbreak.

But the message from its team is: “We are still here to help people.”

Spokeswoman Suzie McFadzean said: “Many in Axminster and surrounding communities are already feeling the impact of Covid-19.

“In these unprecedented times, Arc is striving to meet a significant increase in demand for emotional support associated with traumatic changes, loss and bereavement.

“Looking after your mental health during these challenging times is crucial and it is important to understand that Arc is still here for you via the usual route of referral from your GP.”

Catherine Davies, Arc’s lead counsellor, based at Axminster Medical Practice, said: “All face to face sessions have been replaced with remote counselling over the phone or via the internet.

“The transition has happened smoothly despite a very high workload and the feedback we are receiving from our clients is very positive.

“We remain committed to meeting the demand.”

Her colleague Craig Billington added: “Arc is entirely funded by the community. We get no NHS funding.

“The Arc shop which accounts for nearly one quarter of our annual revenue has had to close, for now, and the many fundraising events planned for the first half of this year have had to be postponed or cancelled.”

Shelaagh Fearnley, chairman of the trustees said: “We realise that Arc’s mental health provision for the Axminster community will have to expand to meet the increased demand for counselling.

“If not, for the first time in Arc’s 13 year history, services are going to have to be limited.

“In spite of our work over the past 18 months to put in place a sustainable funding stream we are facing a sudden and dramatic drop in Arc’s income.

“This comes just when the need for our services is increasing due directly to coronavirus.

“We are now urgently seeking help from grant funding and even if we are successful funding is not going to arrive any time soon.

“In the meantime some wonderful individuals undertaking sponsored activities in their homes are supporting Arc and we are exceptionally grateful for all these initiatives.”

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