A mental health charity has had to shut one of its two sites after a massive flood … and has had to close to new referrals as it was getting overloaded by requests for help.

Platform 1 is based in Huddersfield town centre and has several sheds and a Pacer train inside the station complex next to the railway lines along with counselling offices in nearby buildings in St George’s Square.

But a huge flood at the railway site over Christmas along with an attempted break-in has left many of the sheds wrecked so they have had to make the tough decision to shut that site completely.

This means the Pacer train that had to be lifted there in July 2021 is isolated and can’t be used.

The only hope for it to reopen in the future is if the sheds are all demolished and replaced by breeze block buildings but the charity has no money for that.

The site was used to repair bikes and sell them on as a fundraiser and was also a base for support groups, IT and cooking training. The Pacer train, which is undamaged by the flood, was also being hired out to groups for meetings.

The counselling offices on nearby Railway Street are not affected but they have closed to new referrals after the waiting list grew to eight months.

Project leader Gez Walsh said: “It certainly is a tough time at the moment. The waiting list for help had grown to eight months and if we’d not closed it to new referrals it would have been 18 months by now.

“We are very well known and many organisations refer people with mental health problems to us but we simply don’t have the resources to cope. We’ll review the situation again by the end of March and hopefully will be able to start taking referrals again.

“If people are in a critical mental health condition then we can still respond to those emergencies and have been called out to one such case within the last week by the police.

“In terms of our railway site then it’s very sad we’ve had to close it as that’s our spiritual home and goes against everything we stand for. During the really cold snap just before Christmas several pipes burst and badly flooded the entire site, also damaging the electrics.

“When we discovered the flood a few days later we also found that burglars had tried to break in through a roof and had stripped the felt back, adding to the devastation.

“We then had yet another flood when a main pipe feeding water into the site burst and the site now is in such a state from a health and safety point of view we’ve had to close it all. This means the Pacer train can’t be used either.

“We had no choice but to shut this site as it was just haemorrhaging money and we simply didn’t have any more to throw at it.”

Gez added: “The sheds were built in 1974 and were only supposed to have a 15-year lifespan. We’d patched them up the best we could in the past but they are now rotten, a health risk and need pulling down.

“It would then need a concrete base and breeze block buildings constructing but that could cost us around £150,000 at a guess and we have no money to do that. Even if we applied for funding and were successful, work couldn’t even start until 2025.

“The sad thing is we would love to develop the site and if we had breeze block buildings we could quadruple our services. It’s all so frustrating but we need to spend the money we have on our counselling services which cost £174,000 a year to run.”

It all comes at a time when there is more demand on Platform 1’s services than ever before, providing counselling for people in mental health crisis and now also mental health awareness courses and workshops in schools.

If you can support Platform 1 in any way contact Gez on 07512 018940 or email gez.pfm1@gmail.com

  • Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.