VULNERABLE members of a self-help group which saves lives and taxpayers’ money are having to dig into their own pockets to keep going.
Huddersfield MDF Bi-Polar Organisation, which helps people with manic depression, has lost its funding from Kirklees Council.
The self-help organisation was set up by Jackie Jones in 2002 and gives assistance to some 50 sufferers in the Huddersfield area.
Up to 2009 the group received £1,000 a year, mainly from the council’s funding group, Kirklees Community Partnership (KCP), which enabled members to produce a newsletter, hold talks and meetings and take the occasional trip out.
At the monthly meetings members can receive information about the latest medication or discuss new techniques for dealing with the illness.
A further important aspect of their support work is making sure somebody is always available to talk to – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Early last year Huddersfield Bi-Polar requested and received £500. In October their application for a further £1,000 was turned down by KCP. According to Mrs Jones, this is because the Partnership has altered the grant criteria.
Although the group is currently involved with 50 people locally, only about 15 attend each meeting, as others may be suffering from depression and too ill to attend. It is this lower figure on which the grant is now calculated.
Members are currently funding the group out of their own pockets. Mrs Jones, of Newsome, has personally contributed £300 of her own money to print leaflets and pay for a meal out at a Chinese restaurant.
“I was totally gutted when we were turned down,” she said.
“We are currently funding it ourselves because we really don’t want it to fold.
“Bi-polar is a very difficult illness. Nobody really understands it unless you suffer yourself. You can wake up one day and not want to eat, wash or dress. This depression can last for a day, weeks or even years. There is no pattern.
“Knowing somebody is there 24/7 is very important. Sometimes we can keep people out of hospital just by talking to them on a daily basis.
“We have all lost friends along the way, but we would have lost a lot more without the group.
“We are definitely saving lives and saving money for the NHS. Without us there would be more hospitalisations and more suicides.”
The organisation has submitted another grant application to KCP. A number of group members have written letters of support.
In one letter, Ellen from Slaithwaite states: “Both myself and my son suffer from depression. This group has been an enormous help to us for advice, support and companionship from people who suffer from bipolar and/or depression. I really want this group to continue.”
A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “We have made contributions to this organisation over a number of years.ŠLast year the organisation received £500 from the Kirklees Community Partnership.
“The most recent application for funding from this organisation was March 11, 2011. At this time the council is considering this submission along with others from a variety of organisations.”