February 4, 2020 9.15 am This story is over 45 months old

Lincoln mental health hub saved from closure by National Lottery funding

It was a very welcome birthday present

A mental health and trauma hub in Lincoln celebrated its 34th birthday on Monday with the perfect gift – £185,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund to help save it from potential closure.

As previously reported, Involve@Lincoln on Mint Lane needed to raise at least £70,000 so the local charity running it – Community Assets Plus – could potentially buy the building, which is currently owned by Lincolnshire County Council.

The council previously said it would be putting the building up for sale by 2022. Volunteers said the charity which runs the centre were invited to buy the freehold and it appealed for the community to buy shares towards the cost.

Some of the latest money from the National Lottery will be used to help purchase the building, along with the proceeds of the Community Share Offer.

Mint Lane Cafe volunteer coordinator Anastasia Oyebanji, directors at Lincoln Trauma Centre Andrea Stott & Michelle Freeman, Involve@Lincoln centre manager Charles Cooke, Renew member Kim East and Cafe manager Angeletia Padmore-Clarke. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The remaining money will be used to refurbish and improve the building and support its operations over the next two years. This will see the future of the centre saved from the threat of closure at the end of its leases in 2022.

It will mean it can potentially attract additional investment and house more long-term activities and services. It will also help the centre become more sustainable as the rent currently payable comprises nearly half the running costs.

Martha Vahl, Chair of Involve@Lincoln said: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to be certain that the centre can survive and go on with its work.

“This is important because the burden of poor mental health is increasingly recognised and the work that goes on in the centre is so important for hundreds of people a year, helping them stay well and avoid the need for expensive clinical care in the NHS etc.”

Centre Manager Charles Cooke added: “All members of the community can buy shares from as little as £50. Over £40,000 has been pledged so far and it is expected that at least £70,000 will be needed to enable the purchase of the building to go ahead. The good news from National Lottery should ensure that that target is reached and we can then go ahead.”

The Mint Lane centre opened its doors on February 3, 1986 as an NHS facility, but since 2012 it has been run by Community Assets Plus. Involve@Lincoln offers a range of services to help improve people’s wellbeing and is largely centred around mental health.

It’s home to the Lincoln Trauma Centre, a newly-opened laundry and shower facility for the homeless, and a cafe serving a buffet of surplus food from local businesses.

The latest news was also welcomed by Kim East, who has been a regular and frequent attender at the centre since it first opened. He said: “This is fantastic news. I have been coming to Mint Lane since it opened as an NHS facility on February 3 1986 and I cannot imagine a better 34th birthday present for the centre than finding out it might be saved for years to come.”

Kevin Kendall, assistant director for corporate property at the county council, said: “We had positive meetings with Community Assets Plus following their request to buy the Mint Lane building instead of renting it from us, and this funding announcement is great news for them. We’re looking forward to helping them progress their plans.”