What will the funds be used for?
If we hit our target of £150k we will be helping launch a ground breaking new project, called Bipolar Link in England. We will be paying to support and mentor 50 highly vulnerable individuals through this brand new initiative and thus help reduce suicide rates in the most severely ill bipolar sufferers
We have chosen to support Bipolar UK, the only national charity dedicated to supporting individuals with the much misunderstood and devastating condition of Bipolar Disorder, plus their families and carers.
Bipolar UK have recently changed from MDF The Bipolar Organisation, where MDF stood for Manic Depression Fellowship - Manic Depression is more commonly known as Bipolar these days, hence the change of name.
The charity provides a range of services to enable people affected by bipolar to take control of their lives, including supporting 4500 members, hosting over 100 self-help groups across the UK and facilitating self-management training courses. In early 2011 they launched a new project called London Youth, working with and supporting young people between 18 and 25 years of age, with a view longer term to reduce the average 10.5 years it takes to diagnose the illness.
We have got to know the charity well over the last year or so, and have been impressed with their vision for the future and their energy and drive to move things forward. They are a small national charity will annual funding of only about about £1m. The demand for their services is unprecedented, so the cash that we raise will make a real difference.
We have decided to fund a pioneering new project called Bipolar Link.
Bipolar Link provides one-to-one mentoring for highly vulnerable individuals with bipolar in psychiatric units, both within hospitals and in the community. The project supports individuals and families through their treatment and within their communities when they leave specialist care and return home. As we found when Duncan went through this transition, the support provided by local authorities and social workers once patients go back into the community is woefully lacking. Infact it is the time when most support is needed, as the risk of suicide is at it greatest. Had the service been in existence in England in 2009 it may have made a real difference to the outcome of Duncan's illness.
The charity's focus on peer support is the main reason this project works so well. Trained volunteer mentors who themselves have bipolar, mentor the patients with support of the Link officers and the charity. This is unique. To be supported by someone who has experienced and understands the challenges and the impact of this devastating illness makes all the difference to someone who is either hospitalised or receiving hospital treatment.
The charity is currently running a pilot in Wales. Our cash will allow the project to be launched in England and will support its development.
Individuals participating in the pilot in Wales state that Link is particularly important in providing a 'missing link' in being diagnosed, and coming to terms with the implications of diagnosis. 76% stated that Link has had a positive effect in reducing suicidal thoughts, as the service and mentors support them to cope with these (and other) symptoms of bipolar evidenced by reduced isolation, increased confidence, reduced self-harm and increased engagement with community and social activities.
Moreover the project absolutely raises awareness of bipolar and its impact within local communities including the police, community health teams, social services, voluntary sector organisations and members of the public.
The total cost of running the Link project is £3000 per individual per year.
If we hit our target we will be paying to support and mentor 50 individuals, and thus reduce suicide rates in the most vulnerable sufferers.
Bipolar awareness - should we raise more than £150k, it is my intention to employ a PR Officer for the charity. The awareness around the illness is very low, and the Bipolar Organisation needs a real boost to help raise its profile in order to raise sufficient funds to bring much needed services to sufferers and their families. This is especially important as government spending cuts mean that psychiatric units are closing & sufferers are relying more than ever on the great work of charities such as Bipolar UK.
Thank you for all your support - it really will make a difference!