For three years now Kevin Watts, Finance Director at Club Lennox, has been selling pine trees at Christmas time to raise funds for local charities.
‘The idea came to me when I needed to find a tree for our family one Christmas,’ he says.
Kevin found a tree farmer, and decided to sell the trees through the Club, donating all the profits to a nominated charity every year. He says it’s a great way to support and connect with members of the club and the local community.
This year the grateful recipient of an impressive $2113.00 was Mental Health Support Group. It’s a local charity, started by Barbara Swain over 20 years ago.
The Mental Health Support Group (MHSG) is a registered charity that is concerned with the welfare of those who are living with a mental illness.
The Group has been operating in the Northern Rivers Region for 18 years. It is run entirely by volunteers with no government funding.
The MHSG is involved with the welfare of mental health patients in Lismore Base Hospital and with the welfare of people who live in the community but struggle with their mental health.
Its focus is on helping mental health patients to live a normal life, be involved in community and ensure that they are not marginalised or disadvantaged because of their condition.
The MHSG works on multiple fronts from the provision of toiletries and clothing for mental health patients who have no family support, to furniture, quilts, materials for art therapy, musical instruments for music therapy and the list goes on.
According to Barbara, ‘Many patients who are admitted to Lismore Adult Mental Health Unit (LAMHU) are homeless or abandoned by their families. They need clean clothing and toiletry packs, around 700 toiletry packs per year are given to patients in Lismore Adult Mental Health Unit. (LAMHU) and bales of donated clothing from op shops and private individuals provide the patients with clean clothing. The MHSG purchase new underwear, night wear and slippers. The MHSG also provide the materials for art therapy i.e. paints, brushes, paper etc., and games, magazines and cards for diversion all therapy.
Young people who are patients in CAIPU are aged from 8 years to 18 years and are hospitalised because of sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse and disruption because of dysfunctional family life to name a few reasons. These adolescents usually spend a long time in the Unit and the MHSG is concerned that such long periods of being in a confined hospital situation can be detrimental for the young persons development. MHSG has provided musical instruments for music therapy, provided a library of reading material, materials for art therapy, and facilitating the visits of therapy dogs to visit patients.
In addition MHSG provides furniture and household items to people living in the community who are finding it difficult to manage because of their mental illness. We provide furniture for those who have been homeless and find accommodation for those who have been living in a caravans.
‘We look after people with mental illness,’ says Barbara, ‘helping link them up with the services they need, providing financial and practical support. We find furniture for them, help with school uniforms, clothing, accommodation, teaching them life skills, plus a range of other services.’
‘We cover an area from Mullumbimby to Casino, to Byron Bay and Lennox Head, and beyond.’