It was described as being ‘like a new beginning’ as a local charity CAPE, which has an important role in the community, was able to reopen its shop and the borough’s high streets emerged from the latest lockdown.
CAPE is a small charity that provides vital mental health services for Ealing residents, through one-to-one psychological support. In the last 12 months, the charity has actively supported 421 local people with long term complex mental health needs by providing one-to-one psychological support. Its team of psychotherapists provided more than 1,000 hours of online psychotherapy in 2020 during the pandemic.
Ealing Council contracts CAPE to provide those services, but the charity also runs a shop in Churchfield Road, Acton. Among other things, the shop provides volunteering work to some CAPE clients to help rebuild their confidence and support them to establish work-like routines and find work again.
The pandemic hit the shop hard, like so many others, but it managed to keep going, not least thanks to grants it received from the council.
“The discretionary grants helped sustain us through potential insolvency, meaning we will not be another shop closure statistic and have been able to open again with a bright new shop layout,” said Patsy Richardson, the shop’s non-executive director.
“We are very grateful for financial support from the council in the form of a business grant, and a rate relief grant. These have made a critical difference to the shop being able to stay viable through the lockdown, and re-open now. We would also like to thank the generosity of the local community and our landlord who have all supported us through the lockdown.
“We’ve all helped each other and come out the other end of the lockdowns. It had been touch-and-go at times.”
‘A cheerful community presence’
“Reopening the shop was huge,” continued Patsy. “It’s a new beginning. We’ve redone the layout and are being more selective about what we sell, so it is much easier for people to find what they want in the shop now.
“Thanks to our close collaboration with the council, our CAPE shop remains a cheerful community presence in Churchfield Road, providing a hub for the local community. Proceeds from the shop go back to the main charity – providing local services at a time when mental health funding is needed more than ever.
“It’s been exciting, quite frankly, to reopen and be in the community again. The work we do is very community based and it is nice to see the road busy and the shop full. Lots of life is coming back.”
Very green shoots of recovery
She added: “An unexpected, and lasting, upside from the lockdown was that we took the opportunity to become more flexible and have an increased focus on re-use and sustainability.
“The main business of the shop is to re-sell donated second-hand clothes and bric-a-brac. We try to process these donations in a sustainable way and recycle any textiles and books that we are unable to sell directly. We are proud to be a part of a greener Ealing by using our textile recycler to boost re-use/recycle in our community, and help reduce landfill. Local residents can feel confident that opening the shop provides a service to the local community and helps to keep Ealing green.”
Volunteering is a huge part of the CAPE story and it is not restricted to clients of the charity, some of whom have gone on to be employed. It is also open to other residents – and help is needed.
“The last bit of the jigsaw now is that we need to build up our base of volunteers again,” said Patsy. “So, if you would like to be doing something rewarding with other people and with your time, then please drop in and speak to us.”
CAPE providing a lifeline
“CAPE clients entered the pandemic from a position of disadvantage,” said Patsy. “They were already experiencing pre-existing long-term mental health conditions, economically disadvantaged, many with physical health conditions and already isolated from their local communities through discrimination and fear.
“Much of our work is strength-based, building resilience, and connecting to the local community. This ceased at lockdown and continues with our staff teams now providing crisis management over the phone or working online with individuals and families to remain safe and well at home.
“We have seen a marked increase in domestic violence, suicide, substance abuse end exploitation of very vulnerable people, many now very anxious about coming back into a society that is unknown.
“Prior to COVID, CAPE saw a 220% increase in referrals to our services and, as we locked down with a waiting list of 70, we were struggling to meet that demand. Today we are receiving daily calls from our partners asking when we can start to take new referrals as demand is increasing across the borough. As the world unlocks to the ‘new normal’, connectivity to the local Ealing community is fundamental to support all our clients and CAPE work.”
Find out more
The council has been supporting businesses throughout the pandemic by providing financial advice and guidance on how to operate safely. Visit the council’s Help for Business web pages for more details on the support available.
Read more in our series on local businesses in COVID-19
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