Over the years, Toome Pharmacy has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to the local community.
Nowhere has this been more evident in the pharmacy’s involvement in helping the mental health of its patients.
Seven years ago, Anita Gribbin – in conjunction with a patient who had lost several relatives to suicide – established SOLAS, a community support service which provides child and adult counselling services, mental health education awareness programmes for children and bereavement counselling services.
The service now receives regular referrals from pharmacies, district nurses and local GPs.
SOLAS is a completely voluntary organisation and Anita’s significant time commitment to SOLAS demonstrates her commitment to the improvement of mental health services in the community.
Over the last 7 years, SOLAS has evolved into a fully-fledged charity and is now run by a committee.
‘SOLAS is based on the concept of the ‘river of life’,’ says Anita, ‘and we hope to get to people before they reach what we call the ‘waterfall’ stage. It’s not always possible to reverse the process, but we want to give everyone the best possible chance of getting help.
‘SOLAS utilises various forms of therapy, such as art therapy and play therapy. Our adult counsellors, who are all fully qualified, offer six complementary sessions. Over the years – and particularly over the last eight months since lockdown began, demand has increased and our counsellors have never been so busy. We are increasingly aware of how vital SOLAS’ services are to the local community.
‘It’s so important that people are seen as quickly as possible – especially when they contact us. We aim to have them see our counsellors within 48 hours of them making contact, and naturally this can prove difficult given our limited resources, but we always strive to do our best.
‘Sometimes people just need to know that they are ‘normal’ and that it’s OK to feel down or depressed at times. Sometimes they simply need someone to give them permission to feel bad.’
The charity has now expanded into doing fresh little mind courses in primary schools: courses, which SOLAS has funded.
As a charity, SOLAS is totally dependent on donations and so Toome Pharmacy is instrumental in organising fundraising activities in the community to sustain this much-needed service.
The pharmacy organises fundraising walks and runs and is encouraged by the number of local organisations, who undertake fundraising events on behalf of SOLAS.