Issued: June 1, 2018
MP opens Open Door Friendship Group
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A group where adults with mental ill health can meet has been officially opened by Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing.
Open Door Friendship Group opened its doors at St Michael and All Angels Church, Roding Road, Loughton, on Friday (June 1) with a ribbon-cutting by Mrs Laing.
Open Door has been created by a small group of people who have received National Lottery funding, grant aid from Epping Forest District Council and funding from the Essex Community Foundation.
The committee consists of carers and service users.
Group chairperson and founder Paula Wilson said: "We feel there is a need for a club where vulnerable or isolated adults can meet on a weekly basis.
"The nearest club providing this opportunity is supported by Mind in Brentwood."
She added: "When people have been discharged from an acute psychiatric ward in our area there are no places for them to meet informally.
"They leave hospital having been in contact with people 24 hours a day seven days a week to return sometimes to their home alone which can prove too much of a contrast and quite quickly people find themselves back in hospital.
"We aim to stop that cycle of events by providing this much-needed social and inclusive club.
"When our members feel down or alone they will have something to look forward to. They will meet people and establish friendships which could enable them to meet at other times."
The Open Door Friendship Group has funding for two years and is looking at raising more money so it can increase the number of days it can open.
At present Open Door will be open on Fridays between 3.30pm and 5.30pm with activities, cups of tea and chat.
A facilitator supported by the Epping Forest Volunteer Bureau will be at the club each week.
Mrs Laing said: "Paula has done a magnificent job in pioneering this idea of a friendship group. It is widely recognised now in the medical profession that people, whether they have mental health problems or not, don't just need the technical support of doctors and nurses, they often need someone to talk to.
"Having this opportunity to come to the church hall once a week creates a hub as a result of which people will meet other people, meet new friends, develop new associations and I have every confidence that this project will go from strength to strength and has the potential to help an enormous number of people."