"Please don't close the Network Arts project"

About: Adult mental health (Lewisham)

(as a friend),

This is a wonderful project and it should be continued at all cost - I know people that it has been a real life saver for.

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Responses

Response from Patrick Gillespie, Service Director, Psychosis Clinical Academic Group, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

Dear Snapper,

Thank you for taking the time to share your compliments for the Networks Arts Project, I'm glad to hear that it has provided a valuable service to yourself and others.

The service changes we are proposing have been prompted by a large reduction in the funding received from the Government. This means we cannot simply continue providing services in the same way as in the past and must instead find more cost effective ways of working with fewer resources. In total, Lewisham Community Opportunities Service (COS) has to find savings of £600,000.

We understand that the proposed changes to this service may cause people to worry, but I would like to reassure you that the new, reorganised service will still be able to help people who attend Network Arts, as well as supporting many more people than it currently does.

To deal with this large reduction in funding we are reorganising Lewisham COS. The new, reorganised service will offer service users direct payments. COS will provide each service user with assistance on spending their direct payments, with a particular focus on providing employment and career training opportunities, as we know these are highly valued by people with mental health problems.

The more efficient way the service will be organised means that many more of the 1300 people that use SLaM services in Lewisham can benefit from the support and other opportunities provided through COS. This compares to only 450 people who currently receive a level of service that we cannot continue to provide in the current financial climate.

I understand that Network Arts is important to you and many other people, but unfortunately we cannot afford to continue providing this type of service, while many other service users receive no help or support at all.

The long-term impact upon services and service users would be greater had we not made this difficult decision. That said, the new COS service will help people currently using Network Arts to find organisations offering similar services, as well as many other meaningful activities, whether paid or voluntary, that contribute to mental wellbeing.

I hope this explanation helps you to understand that the decision to close the Network Arts Project, while very difficult, is necessary and that we are confident that the new service can continue to support you and many other people. If you would like more information on the changes to Lewisham COS, please feel free to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Patrick Gillespie

Service Director, Psychosis Clinical Academic Group

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