ANGUS Mental Health Association (AMHA), held a party on Friday in the Meadowbank, Arbroath, as a means of rewarding volunteers and clients for the sterling work they did during the 'Save AMHA' campaign.
The campaign grew out of Angus Council's decision to seek elsewhere the services provided by AMHA. It was stated by the administration that AMHA was not able to provide what was required.
Then AMHA was asked by the council to continue for six months until its replacement could be put in place - a request which reduced some of the AMHA organisers to near apoplexy.
Chairman Ron Scrimgeour told us: "You could not make up the current situation. AMHA was deemed to be unsuitable to go forward to the final stage of the new tendering process, yet Angus Council and NHS Tayside had to ask the organisation to continue delivering services for another six months."
On Friday, Wayne Mathieson, AMHA manager told those at the party: "This celebration is a fantastic way to thank all who are involved with AMHA, and in particular our volunteers and service users who fought tirelessly over the Christmas period to save that which they believed in and valued."
He continued: "With our financial year ending it is also an opportunity for AMHA to highlight, in what we hope is a light-hearted way, the value of our volunteering arm both in economic and social terms.
"Whilst keen to deliver the agreed new six-month contract with Angus Council to ensure the continuation of quality-based services for adults with mental health needs, Angus is still set to lose the economic value of our volunteering arm amounting to some 80,000 per annum after this brief reprieve ends.
"This does not, of course, go near the additional loss of the social capital AMHA has amassed over the years.
"All this said and done, AMHA will of course not just slip away. We have many committed supporters who will help steer the agency through the coming months to what we hope will be a brighter, albeit different, future."
Mr Scrimgeour went on: "A lot of effort went into trying to point out to Angus Council that they had used a flawed and faulty process to award the level one mental service contract. Sadly Angus Council acted true to form by standing by its decision to use a purely immature commercial approach to a people-centred service. Apparently local government just does not admit to making mistakes."
He added: "It is still disappointing that Angus Council was unaware of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) that is being widely promoted by the Scottish Government and Audit Scotland. This initiative encourages local government to factor into contracts and tenders issues like community gain, volunteering and local capacity building."
AMHA is looking for donations of plants for its community garden in Strathmore Place, Montrose. Its gardening group has put a lot of hard work and enthusiasm into converting a run-down piece of land into a community garden for use by all. This work has a positive effect on the wellbeing of service users by giving them a sense of achievement and boosting their self esteem.
Neil Ironside continued: “To continue our work we urgently need bedding plants, vegetables, compost and plant pots.
“Donations would be gratefully received so please contact me on 01241 873311 or bring your plants along to our office in Lindsay Street, Arbroath.”