Bipolar UKA 24-hour eCommunity service, which provides online support for people with bipolar to share experiences, express their feelings and seek support, is to expand thanks to a £200,000 grant.

Bipolar UK’s moderated eCommunity, which has been running for 15 years, is a forum for people to share experiences, information, and advice as well as interact through a peer support service, which covers a range of topics including medication and self-management.

The funds – which have come from The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust – will be used to re-develop the charity’s eCommunity service including a new mobile app, additional support resources for young people and to recruit online site moderators and youth officers to provide support

There are 15,100 members in Bipolar UK’s eCommunity – 25% of whom are Londoners. The charity has recently seen an unprecedented acceleration in demand for the service and in the past two years it has welcomed more than 7,000 new members to the forum. Bipolar UK says demand from children and young people affected by bipolar has also increased dramatically.

The forum’s online registration details offer crucial contact information, should someone indicate that they are at risk of suicide and in need of crisis intervention. As bipolar increases the risk of suicide by up to 20 times the charity says it's vital to be able to respond immediately to any concerns. Last year, 35 people from the eCommunity were referred to crisis support services having been identified as at risk of suicide. 

Research by Bipolar UK shows that 72% of eCommunity users say that the service helps them feel less alone. 

Suzanne Hudson, chief executive of Bipolar UK, said the charity was “delighted” to receive the support from City Bridge Trust. 

“In recent years the eCommunity has experienced a significant acceleration in demand, with the number of members more than doubling since 2014. It’s with thanks to City Bridge Trust that we can now develop and expand our eCommunity forum to provide a modern and reliable peer support service to meet the needs of thousands of individuals and families.”

Alison Gowman, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “Thousands of people are now interacting through the eCommunity each year which provides an invaluable network of support and information for people with bipolar.  With such an increase in demand, particularly in London, it is evident the charity needs to expand in line with the needs of its members in order to continue offering such a high quality service- especially amongst children and young people. 

“City Bridge Trust is committed to tackling disadvantage across the capital and making London a fairer and better place to live.”