Shop inspired by Dartford lake victim comes on 'leaps and bounds'

News Shopper: Founder Toni Hale (far right) with the shop workers Founder Toni Hale (far right) with the shop workers

A shop inspired by a Dartford man has come on "leaps and bounds" as it transforms the lives of people with mental health problems.

The Mental Health Activity (MHA) Trust store opened in March, a year after Mark Katnoria, 34, drowned while swimming in Cotton Lake at Crossways Business Park, Dartford.

Mark’s mum has just been appointed patron and the project founder is planning to start offering paid positions.

Toni Hale opened the shop in the former Barham Road resident’s memory after being inspired by his struggle with mental health issues.

The store, in Delacourt Road, Blackheath relies on donations and employs people with mental health difficulties.

Ms Hale met Mark, a keen lightweight boxer, when she was working at Little Brook Hospital, in Bow Arrow Lane, Dartford, where he was a voluntary inpatient.

News Shopper: Mark Katnoria drowned last year

She said: "I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people that have walked through the shop door not only looking for employment but people looking for support especially support in their own employment. 

"The project is moving in leaps and bounds and I knew it was a service that was necessary.

"We are the first in the country to do what we do and we all are very proud to have started and been involved in this venture.

"We are carrying out assessment soon for those who want to be employed in paid positions starting with people in the borough first and we want to open more shops around the country.

"We also want to make sure that there are psychological services in all industries and there is proper training for all employees and employers."

Ms Hale has been touched by the generosity of local businesses and individuals.

News Shopper: PICTURED: Former Bluewater worker remembered at opening of charity shop in Blackheath

She said: "The support for us is coming in too with John Lewis having a fun run raising £1,000 for the charity.

"This was an incredible help.

"I would also like to thank Mrs Katnoria who is now our patron.

"Opening this shop in Marks name and letting his memory live on has be an honour."

Visit mhatrust.webs.com

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