Keeping Mental Health a priority
When Revival moved from Oxford Street in 2019 with the mission of establishing a creative wellbeing space within an established Whitstable community and arts centre, we could not possibly have imagined the fallout of this decision. Revival’s time in its Oxford Street premise had been fast paced and exciting, the community support was phenomenal and we were a quick success. However, it soon became clear that the needs of the community went beyond our aim of raising mental health awareness and challenging stigma: the need for access to more information, signposting, support and connection was very evident. In order to develop our mental health remit, we needed to increase our footfall and subsequent income. Mental health training and work is not cheap and we had outgrown our Oxford Street location. The move to a central location and community building seemed a perfect partnership where we could attract a higher footfall, develop our work and help the Horsebridge out. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Without having to go over old ground, Revival found itself subject to a no-warning eviction during lockdown, eventually having to leave under the terms of the service level agreement.
For Revival, the entire episode, now viewed from a distance with the passing of time tempering the heartbreak and at times what felt like insurmountable stress and anxiety, is seen as a bittersweet escape. Despite Revival’s shock eviction notice and the resultant loss of our investment in that premises, we were heartened to receive massive support from members of our local community including Suggs from Madness, Keith Brymer Jones from Channel 4’s Great Pottery Throw Down and local author Julie Wassmer, who all added their voices to the campaign to keep Revival on the High Street. We were also delighted to sign up nearly 300 Revival Proud Members to help Revival ensure sustainability in its plans to #rehomerevival on the High Street. This gave Revival staff a determination not to give up hope and believe in the possibility of a new beginning where prioritising mental health and wellbeing would not be an uphill struggle.
We are delighted that this support, faith and our continued hard work has paid off as Revival now has a new home on Whitstable High Street from which we will be able to continue our vital work supporting mental health and wellbeing in our community. Thanks to the confidence shown in Revival by the board of trustees at Mind in Bexley & East Kent, our charity recently completed on 58 High Street, the old Woolley’s menswear store. Mind in Bexley & East Kent has taken out a mortgage to purchase the building and undertake essential repairs but, as its self-funded social enterprise, Revival itself will be responsible for the entire development, upkeep and ongoing costs, including the mortgage repayments.
This is a huge commitment for our charity, but this new secure central base provides us with the best opportunity to recreate a new vibrant cafe — a “wellbeing hub” right in the heart of the town — where we can expand and develop our initiatives and allow these to grow alongside the needs of our community, now and for generations to come. We recognise the value of belonging, of knowing there is a safe place where you will always be welcomed and allowed to be yourself:
“Knowing that I can go to the peer support group every week is such a comfort, being with people that just understand is so important to me, it can be so exhausting pretending to be OK all the time” (participant, women’s wellness peer support group).
“The MenTalk group has given me the confidence to speak up about my depression … after an up-and-down week I can’t wait to go, I open up more and get great support” (participant, MenTalk peer support group).
Our new building, empty and neglected for years, requires serious renovation, for which we have a £25,000 target. We have managed to secure a grant for £5,000 from the Fidelity UK Foundation and the wonderful Fuchsia Green Showroom is sponsoring our indoor green garden area. So many people have been in contact offering to help our #communitybuild — Travis Perkins in Canterbury has said it would like to donate some materials, and we have local runners undertaking the Tankerton 10km pledging to run to raise funds. A local window cleaner is running the 496 challenge for Revival and our strategic committee members and staff are working hard on ideas. As our new premises will be a real investment in the community, we would welcome further ideas and involvement from the wider community, whether it be cake sales, challenges, raffles or anything that could help. We need this fundraising push to help us reopen this summer and catch the much needed seasonal trade that will help fuel our ongoing initiatives.
Whitstable Pearl author Julie Wassmer continues her strong support for us and says: “We have the opportunity here to make a real difference by ensuring mental health and wellbeing remains a visible and important priority. Revival’s new home promises to be something truly wonderful: a unique vibrant space offering employment, a youth cafe, a place to meet, eat and socialise, attend workshops, training, wellbeing therapies, to take part in community groups and events, access facilitated peer support and mentoring as well as onward referrals to other local support networks and so much more — a hive of community activity and support. In short, a vital community asset.”
If you are a business and would like to sponsor any part of the #communitybuild, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And we have also launched a crowdfunder: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/help-re-open-revival-our-caf-mental-health-hub. If anyone is able to donate directly, any donation, no matter how small, will be gratefully received.
If you can help in any way, Revival would massively appreciate your support and investment in local mental health and wellbeing.
Deborah Haylett is the Revival executive director.
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