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Demonstrate to stop savage charity cuts

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​Staff and service users of a vital Glasgow charity will hold a demo.

Savage cuts to a vital charity service will cost lives – that’s the message campaigners will take to Glasgow City Council this week.

The authority wants to impose swingeing budget cuts of 40% on Glasgow Association of Mental Health (GAMH).

However, the scale of drastic cutbacks are likely to force the group – which receives nearly all of its funding from the council – to close, risking the lives of hundreds of vulnerable adults across the city.

Staff, service users, community groups and members of the public will gather in George Square on Wednesday to lobby the council.

Savage cuts of this level will leave Glasgow’s most vulnerable with nowhere to turn and end up costing the city much more in the long run - Chrissy McKeag

Chrissy McKeag, a project worker at GAMH, said: “We provide essential support - emotional, social and practical - to those who experience mental health difficulties across Glasgow.

“The support we offer transforms people’s lives and helps to prevent them from developing problems that are likely to require costly help and support from statutory services such as health, housing and criminal justice. Savage cuts of this level will leave Glasgow’s most vulnerable with nowhere to turn and end up costing the city much more in the long run.”

One service user, Lorna Cosh, from Glasgow, said: “After suffering from a serious illness I was at a real low point in my life and I was contemplating suicide – I felt my life was over. I got referred to GAMH and they have brought me back to who I was. I am now on the right medication and I am stronger than before. I still need support but I am taking steps; baby ones at first but now big steps. I just feel more reconnected and I now have a purpose in life. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the help and support of GAMH.”

Deborah Dyer, regional organiser for UNISON Scotland, said: “This is yet another attack on the most vulnerable people of the city and it really is a matter of life and death for some of these people.

“The sad reality is cuts cost lives and the council will have blood on its hands if it goes ahead with these plans. Saving GAMH is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes economic sense as every pound spent with the charity saves the public purse £5.”

A city council spokesperson said: "The majority of service users who use GAMH are not known to social work, but those who are will continue to be supported by social work services.

"The council's budget for the next financial year has still to be agreed and so decisions on individual funding awards have still to be taken.

"However, even after years of huge pressure on the council's budget, it has been widely anticipated that further savings will be required.

"Where appropriate we have been working with providers to inform them of the reality of the public finances so they can plan accordingly."

Wednesday’s demonstration takes place at 12.45pm in George Square, Glasgow.

There is an online petition opposing the cuts, which can be accessed here.

Jim Connelly, GAMH service user
Jim Connelly, GAMH service user

"GAMH has given me back my self worth"

"I havesuffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I have had counselling,medication, psychotherapy. There was no continuity and left after that. Aloneagain. GAMH has empowered me to make decisions and get out doors through groupsand individual care.

"I have battled with my mental healthfor 30 years. I managed to work through it most of the timeI was having a few sessions ofpsychotherapy but I stopped it as I thought it was counterproductive. There weregroup sessions but after each session I wanted to drink.

"I suffer from depression anxiety andpanic attacks. I can get frustrated and angry by simple wee things.

"So I self referred to GAMH. Myinitial contact was the ‘my history group’. So i went along to that and itsgiven me real continuity. I get real understanding support from other serviceusers and staff.

"It amazing to be with people who havegone through the same things (and different) things from you. But they arepeople who identify with what you are going through.

"Without these groups I would find itdifficult. I would lose motivation to go out at all. I live alone. GAMH hasreally empowered me to get out and given me confidence to join in.

"It is difficult to say whether myhealth has improved as my condition is so unpredictable. Things can come up –where years ago I would take them in my stride – but now I find difficult todeal with. But I feel in a better place.

"I didn’t see my son for 20- years. Iworked for 40 years. I am 61 years old. I used to be a NALGO and Unisonsteward. I have always been a trade union man.

"But I have not worked for five years.I tried call centre work but had two angina attacks. The problem is, forexample, I do not know the benefit system, I have never had to deal with itbefore. But GAMH helped with all that.

"GAMH has given me back my selfworth."