Bayside Initiatives Group to move to community facility in Capalaba

MENTAL HEALTH: BIG volunteers and staff members outside their facility on Veronica Street. BIG will vacate the facility on June 18.
MENTAL HEALTH: BIG volunteers and staff members outside their facility on Veronica Street. BIG will vacate the facility on June 18.

COUNCIL has given a lifeline to a mental health organisation that is set to lose more than $100,000 in annual state government funding.

Bayside Initiatives Group will vacate its site on Veronica Street on June 18 after finding out that it is set to lose about two-thirds of its funding in the next financial year.

In a council meeting on Wednesday, councillors decided to lease a building at Winter Memorial Park on Mount Cotton Road, Capalaba.

Cr Paul Gleeson said BIG was supporting people at risk and preventing suicide.

While councillors said that helping a social service provider was not a core business for council, they agreed to help BIG in the short-term by providing the premises on a peppercorn lease.

Mayor Karen Williams said that council could not turn a blind eye.

She said BIG had played an integral role in the mental health and wellbeing of Redlands residents for more than 20 years.

"They are the last and only service of this kind in Redland city and the first fully consumer-run organisation in Queensland," Cr Williams said.

"BIG offers a critical link in the local service sector, addressing service gaps between clinical services and case management.

"Larger funded organisations use BIG's services and facilities on a day-to-day basis, so many people will benefit from it continuing to deliver its unique services, support and outreach programs.

RELOCATION: Bayside Initiatives Group will move to a council-owned facility at Winter Memorial Park. Photo: Google

RELOCATION: Bayside Initiatives Group will move to a council-owned facility at Winter Memorial Park. Photo: Google

BIG is two-time winner of the Earle Duus Award, the highest national award bestowed during Australian Mental Health Week.

Cr Gleeson said the lease would not be a long-term solution but would help keep BIG's doors open while they reinvented and restructured the organisation.

BIG co-ordinator Samuel Walker said council had given the organisation breathing room to consolidate and redevelop its business plan.

"Today was a ray of hope in what has been an extremely trying time for us," he said.

"We support some of the Redlands most vulnerable people and it isn't always easy.

"Add to that the stress of funding insecurity and lack of suitable premises and it becomes an incredibly stressful undertaking."

Cr Williams said by allowing BIG to use the building, council was helping to ensure the organisation could continue to provide services.

"BIG has been operating under a cloud as a result of state government funding changes in the community services sector," she said.

"This (the lease) will ensure that BIG is provided with a secure operating base to recalibrate their services to respond to community needs in the face of an uncertain social service funding environment from government."

The Capalaba building had been unoccupied since July last year when it was vacated by YourTown, which had used it as a base for more than a decade.

The centre - previously located in Cleveland - had been gifted to council by Redlands RSL.

BIG is running a fundraising campaign to maintain their existing mental health services.

"Our ultimate goal (is) to rebuild BIG back to what it was... a place where the mental health community can come together, call home and support one another by forming genuine, authentic peer-to-peer relationships that promote recovery," Mr Walker said.

To donate visit gofundme.com/saveBIG.