Greenwich Council is to spend £200,000 rescuing mental health charity Greenwich Mind, which is just three days away from going out of business.
The charity has run out of funds and will be unable to pay its staff if it does not receive an emergency cash injection by Friday. Council leader Denise Hyland formally approved the bailout on Tuesday.
Greenwich Mind provides counselling, advocacy, a crisis line, information and advice, and drop-in groups, serving around 3,500 people each year. It gets most of its £380,000 annual funding from the council, but financial difficulties emerged after Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group cut its share of funding.
The grant is on condition that the charity pays off its debts, restructures, and merges with neighbouring Bromley and Lewisham Mind, which will take on its contracts with the council and keep a presence in Greenwich borough.
Council documents state that a merger would be impossible if the charity was allowed to fail, and “impact of not providing the services on vulnerable individuals with mental health problems or sudden change to them would be high”.
Three staff have already left the charity as a result of the financial crisis, with five more posts being made redundant by Christmas.
In August, Greenwich Mind said it had seen “demand rising in the absence of a relative increase in funding”. It added: “Greenwich Mind has been trying to offer some services to a level in excess of the funding available, using money it had in reserve to cover the shortfall.”
Chief executive Ross Milne resigned after the financial difficulties came to light, with Bromley & Lewisham Mind boss Ben Taylor coming into act as interim chief executive.
Counselling services are set to be largely unchanged, and the Mindline phone service, which offers confidential information and support, continues. Services are set to remain at the charity’s office in Ormiston Road, next to Westcombe Park station.