Hastings’ Conservative MP Amber Rudd has been out and about in her constituency meeting people who make things happen in the community.
In the last week she has met Southdown, a group providing housing, care and support for vulnerable people living in Hastings and she also met up with representatives of the local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Southdown provides a range of support for people at risk of homelessness and living with mental health issues. Ms Rudd saw first hand the work that goes on at Southdown’s Wellbeing Centre at Carisbrooke House in St Leonards.
During the visit, the MP was introduced to people who access Southdown services, who told her about the challenges they have faced and how support has helped them.
Southdown also highlighted a number of new innovative mental health services, which provide improved support for people while also reducing pressure on local GP and accident and emergency services. These services include the ‘Staying Well Space’, provided at Carisbrooke House, which offers evening and weekend support to help people manage a deterioration of their mental health and prevent hospitalisation or self-harm. And, ‘Community Connectors’, a service where staff are co-located within local GP surgeries to provide on the spot advice, guidance and support.
After he visit Ms Rudd said: “I was so pleased to be invited to Southdown’s Mental Health Wellbeing Centre today and to learn of the many supportive ways in which this centre supports its clients, including with temporary accommodation, creative art, walking groups and an allotment. There is a great need for these services and it was good to see for myself the excellent support that exists within our town.”
Neil Blanchard, Chief Executive of Southdown, says, “Every day we meet people struggling to make ends meet, threatened with homelessness, long-term unemployment and facing financial, social, physical, mental and emotional challenges. Southdown is passionate about making a real difference in the local communities where we work. By providing a range of services, and working in partnership with other health, housing and social care professionals, we can support people through crisis and to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.
“There are many more people that need support though. Sharing what we do and enabling our clients’ experiences to be heard by local MPs and councillors, we hope, goes some way to protecting and securing funding for future services,” he said
Last Friday Ms Rudd met with the volunteers at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) as part of a regular programme of meetings, to discuss ways in which she can help to address their concerns.
One big issue under discussion was how Universal Credit is working locally. The new benefit system is handled mainly online and while this is said to work well for more than 90 per cent of claimants, it does not for the remainder.
After he meeting Ms Rudd said: “I am always pleased to listen to the concerns of the CAB volunteers, whose work is invaluable in assisting the vulnerable, and I was delighted to announce that earlier last week, Sarah Newton MP, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work accepted my invitation to visit the CAB here soon to listen first-hand to the issues within the system which CAB volunteers believe could be improved and made to work more efficiently and with more flexibility.”