Royal accolade for charity

Staff and volunteers at Contact Morpeth get a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (back four-left to to right) Audrey Anderson, Cynthia Livesey, Margaret Pickering, Lindsay Thompson and (front two-left to right) Julie Forester and Fiona Grant.
Staff and volunteers at Contact Morpeth get a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (back four-left to to right) Audrey Anderson, Cynthia Livesey, Margaret Pickering, Lindsay Thompson and (front two-left to right) Julie Forester and Fiona Grant.

A MORPETH charity is hoping to help even more people after receiving a Royal honour.

And it is a double celebration for Contact Morpeth Mental Health as the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service has come during its silver anniversary.

It is following in the footsteps of Morpeth Lions Club, which was presented with the accolade, dubbed the MBE for community groups, last year.

Contact provides support and social contact for people with mental health issues and their carers across south east Northumberland, offering a range of group activities and events.

Chief Executive Cynthia Livesey has been involved with the organisation for 15 of its 25 years.

She said: “We were floating on the ceiling when we opened the letter telling us that we had won the award.

“It has been a tough time for all charities over the last couple of years so to receive an accolade like this is a fantastic boost.

“It puts mental health in the spotlight and hopefully more people will come along to find out what we have to offer, particularly as we have an open door policy.”

She added: “We provide our members with on-going support, friendship and guidance and our building is a safe haven where they won’t be judged.

“There is more awareness of mental health issues in recent years and Morpeth was one of the venues for a march to promote the national Time to Change campaign earlier this year, but the stigma is still there and so we will continue to tell the public that these are serious problems which need to be treated.”

Contact employs five staff and a team of volunteer counsellors who provide free sessions, as well as other volunteers who help out with its activities and drop-in area.

Crafts, creative writing, complimentary therapies, a computer suite and personal development sessions are also available at the Bridge Street premises.

There are fishing and walking clubs, a caravan at Haggerston Castle Holiday Park and holidays are organised across the UK and abroad.

Office Manager Audrey Anderson said: “People have come to us for a range of reasons, from losing their job to the aftermath of the Morpeth flood in 2008, and we’re expecting more people in the future who have been affected by the Government cuts.

“The fact that we have survived for 25 years is testament to the hard work of everyone involved with the charity and it shows how essential the service is.”

Contact will be moving this summer to offices previously used by Morpeth Town Council next to the Town Hall.

It will have a 25th anniversary celebration lunch in the Ballroom of the Town Hall in August. For more information about the charity, or to volunteer, call 01670 510652.