A SERVICE providing life-changing mental health support for children and families is to expand thanks to a £400,000-plus funding announcement.

Mind Mosaic Children and Family Therapies has received £433,965 from the National Lottery Community Fund which will allow them to expand their service, based at Ladyburn Business Centre.

The cash injectio nwill enable staff to provide help more quickly and reduce waiting lists.

Sandra Boyle, chief executive, said: "It's fantastic news - we have build up a good reputation within specialist children's mental health services and the award is testament to this."

Sandra says that people's mental health has suffered due to the effects of the pandemic and lockdown.

She said: "Our referrals have almost trebled since lockdown.

"We see babies, children and young people up to the age of 18, alongside parents."

The extra funds mean that play therapy, a key way to support children, can be rolled out.

Sandra said: "We will be able to expand services and bring our waiting lists down."

The charity works alongside partners such as Home-Start Inverclyde and Inverclyde Women's Aid and also provides therapy at schools including Aileymill Primary, Inverclyde Academy and Craigmarloch.

Sandra says that the level complexity in the cases in she and her team are dealing with is growing.

She said: "There is a huge rise in self harming and children and young people affected by suicide and affected by bereavement through Covid.

"There have been 174 deaths from the virus in Inverclyde, children and grandchildren have been affected as well.

The team recently set up a new group called Wee Minds which offers infant and parent attachment play sessions.

Sandra said: "We expected six to eight parents but 36 people got in touch - we were overwhelmed with the response and have 64 people on the waiting list.

"The children born during lockdown are in a class of their own - mothers and babies are doing different things.

"They are not able to go to mother and toddler groups or meet up other mums for a coffee."

Sandra said the developmental effect will only be known in future years.

She said: "Researchers are collating information about babies born at this time and we don't know what we will be faced with in 10 years time.

"The research relating to babies, parents and children’s experiences of the impact of lockdown will help inform our future training workshop delivery and shape the services we provide."