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Pillar and The Alford mental health drop-in centres 

Location: UK » Scotland » AB
Sector: Disability

In 2010, Aberdeen City Council withdrew funding from both of the city’s drop-in centres for people with mental health problems - Pillar and The Alford Centre. Both were closed as a result.

Both had been operating for more than 15 years and provided valuable aid as centres where people with mental health problems - long-term and short-term - could meet and receive advice, as well as being able to take part in social events, or just to chat with others experiencing the same problems.

The council, along with Scottish Government, has since set up a Penumbra project, but this is a national project and many long-term users of psychiatric services in Aberdeen feel that the loss of drop-in centres will have a damaging effect on their lives, leaving isolated within the community.

Already, small groups of long-term sufferers are meeting at coffee mornings as a means of replacing the atmosphere and sense of sharing which Pillar and the Alford Centre provided. According to Aberdeen City Council, it is very unlikely that Penumbra (a national charity) will be providing a drop-in centre at any time in the future.

It is more than 30 years since patients at Aberdeen’s psychiatric hospital - Royal Cornhill Hospital - set up Stepping Stones, which was a once weekly drop in centre. Stepping Stones ran for many years with only voluntary assistance until it was taken over by Aberdeen City’s social work department and became Pillar.

The Alford Centre was set up just after the Pillar project - although the former was brought into being through the efforts of the Aberdeen and North East Mental Health Association.

Now, as a result of Aberdeen City Council’s budget cuts, both centres are closed with any future drop-in centre only available through the work of volunteers.

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