All Hope lost for Lanark’s mental health haven

Hope Cafe volunteer Gillian, with Claudia Beamish
Hope Cafe volunteer Gillian, with Claudia Beamish

Urgent calls have been made to provide support for people in Clydesdale with mental health problems after Lanark’s Hope Cafe closes its doors for the last time next Wednesday.

The charity-run cafe, founded two years ago, originally started in Lanark’s Greyfriars Church but later moved to its own premises in the Wide Close.

The announcement of the closure came in a statement issued last week by the Trust in charge of the network of Hope Cafes throughout Lanarkshire.

It said: “It is with a heavy heart that Board of Trustees of the Hope Cafe Lanarkshire have to announce the closure of the Hope Cafe in Lanark.

“This is due to being unable to secure continued funding for this part of the project, which has resulted in Hope Cafe Lanarkshire having to restructure.

“Bun and a Blether and Hope Cafe Stonehouse will continue as before. The last working day of the Hope Cafe in Lanark will be April 27.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff and volunteers for their extremely hard work and commitment over the past few years.

“We invite you to join us on the 27th.”

The news is the latest blow to mental health sufferers in rural Clydesdale who also lost the area’s befriending group several years ago.

The Hope Cafe closure announcement brought calls for support to sufferers to be provided in some other form.

On hearing of the cafe’s problems, Claudia Beamish, currently seeking re-election as a Labour MSP, went to the Wide Close premises to talk to volunteers.

She later said: “I visited it to see if I could help. It is indeed a funding issue as explained by Gillian, a board member and volunteer, who I met there.

“My immediate concern is about the need for continuing support for those who depend on the services available through the cafe.

“Gillian pointed out that while the cafe itself cannot continue in its present form, the support offered will still be there in different ways.

“I emphasised to Gillian I would help however I can.

“The Hope Cafe has made a significant contribution to the Lanark community, not least by ensuring the needs of those with mental wellbeing challenges are more visible.”

Lanark’s Independent councillor Ed Archer, who used to run an umbrella organisation for local voluntary groups, told the Gazette: “The Hope Cafe closure in Lanark is just symptomatic of the lack of proper financial support for voluntary efforts, especially in rural areas.

”When the banks nearly crashed back in 2008, the government threw billions at them to save them.

“It is calculated that proper government support for voluntary groups - perhaps via a levy on big business profits - would come to just around £12m a year for the whole of Scotland.

“Think what a tiny proportion of that cash - itself nationally modest - would have saved the Hope Cafe and its invaluable services.”