Andrea McCubbin, CEO of Buckinghamshire Mind said:
“We understand that some concerns have been raised about Buckinghamshire Mind’s Honorary Vice Presidents.
Many MPs hold profile-raising positions such as Patrons, Vice-Presidents and Presidents within charities including Buckinghamshire Mind that are not directly related to the day-to-day running of the organisation. The political beliefs of these MPs have no bearing or impact on the services provided at a local level or the campaigning and influencing work happening at national level.
Buckinghamshire Mind is a politically-neutral charitable organisation providing a range of services to people with mental health problems living across the county. These include activity groups and peer support, older adults’ dementia services, befriending, youth befriending, employment support, projects to prevent social isolation and wellbeing education and training. Supporting people with mental health needs to live safe, productive and fulfilled lives in our communities remains at the heart of everything we do. We have relationships with MPs and other influential individuals who have a range of political views. Such relationships with prominent individuals enable us to increase the profile of Buckinghamshire Mind and push mental health up the political agenda.
MPs are required to vote on matters that may directly affect our beneficiaries or the charitable causes we represent. The position MPs adopt on every issue will not always align with Buckinghamshire Mind’s views, as is the case with the voting through of certain amendments to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which will result in a £30 per week cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from 2017.
Buckinghamshire Mind wholeheartedly backs the campaigning work being done by Mind at a national level to help raise awareness of and lessen the impact of changes to disability benefits. Around 500,000 people are currently being supported by ESA, of which approximately half need this support primarily due to their mental health. Mind works tirelessly to try to influence policymakers by highlighting the detrimental impact changes to benefits are having on people with mental health problems. We were, therefore, extremely disappointed when MP’s voted to reduce the financial support available to people who cannot work because of illness or disability.
The roles and responsibilities of our Patrons will be discussed at the next board meeting and we will issue a further update in due course.”