FREEMEN BRING A BREATH OF FRESH AIR TO MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY’S WORK
People seeking help and support from an independently-run mental health resource centre near the centre of Durham will now be able to enjoy a welcome breath of fresh air - thanks to a gift from the city’s freemen.
Every week the Waddington Street Centre, a respected charity celebrating its 40th anniversary this month (November), has provided a haven for up to 120 members struggling to cope with the crippling stress of modern living, more recently aggravated by the new tensions created by Covid restrictions.
Alan Ribchester Freemen Charitable Trust and Steve Wakefield Waddington Street Centre
However, the lockdown closures provided the opportunity to give the terraced property a major face-lift, the result of the generosity of city developers. But the latest £250 donation from the freemen’s charitable trust will help meet the £1,000 cost of a new and welcome addition to the facilities which re-opened in August.
Centre manager Ali Lee explained: “One of our main features is a long lounge extending into a café area which, in its turn, leads to a set of French doors. Beyond that is a pokey backyard - particularly gloomy when it’s wet.
“Adding a canopy roof over the yard and colourful wall murals will turn it into a brighter protected space where anxious members, who might feel closed in, can sit in comfort and take a breather.”
The centre’s team of 20 volunteers look to relieve the worries of home life, illness or community conflict through a wide range of informal educational activities. Help is tailored to address each individual’s needs, hopes and aspirations and embraces arts and crafts, writing and music workshops and exhibitions.
They also look to the extra value of theatre and cultural visits, as well as sporting activities. To that end they set a target of £40,000, to mark their 40thanniversary to cover costs of providing a new 14-seater mini bus to replace their ageing transport. To date they are less than 10 per cent of their target.
“As a charity we rely on all the help we can get and are indebted to the freemen for their support,” added Ali.
The chairman of the freemen’s charitable trust, Eric Bulmer said: “We are pleased to support a charity in the heart of the city devoted to providing a safe haven for individuals suffering a wide range of mental health issues.
“We applaud Ali and her team of volunteers for their dedication in providing a caring environment of support for members already struggling with the pressures life brings and now amplified by the Covid pandemic.”