A UNIQUE health and wellbeing centre – believed to be the first of its kind – has officially opened in Middlesbrough by Mayor Dave Budd.
The Live Well Centre is based across five floors of Dundas House and is a one-stop shop to support people in changing their lives for the better across a full spectrum of life issues.
The Live Well Centre has been made possible by an £800,000 refit of the previously disused space further helping the town’s ongoing regeneration.
The hub will offer a new and diverse range of hireable facilities, including a community gym and fitness studio, training kitchen, clinics and consultation rooms, event space and much more.
Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd said: “It is designed to help people help themselves, a one-stop shop if you like, for different services.
“We have really difficult health problems in the town and have had for a long time. We have very great health inequalities and this is part of a programme to address that as well as the obvious things like education and tackling poverty and jobs and better housing.
“It is unique and we are very proud that this centre is the first of its kind in the country. I think as people walk around and see the breadth of what is available here they will be really blown away by the possibilities.”
Recovering alcoholic Jill Fidan, 54, from Middlesbrough, has been sober for 12 years and now works within The Live Well Centre’s needle exchange.
She said: “I lost everything to alcohol. From personal experience I am 12 years sober and it has been the best 12 years I have had. The Live Well Centre is here for people to come down with anonymity, it’s not stigmatised, you just come along and all the services are here under one roof to give you the help that you need.”
Edward Kunonga, Middlesbrough’s Director of Public Health, said: “Very often people don’t have one single issue and bringing services together helps to address that but also we know it helps to take away the stigma.
“If you walk into this building who knows what you are coming in for, it could be cooking on a budget, you could be coming to a mental health session, you could be coming for employment advice, you could be coming to the drug and alcohol service. We feel that takes away one of the barriers.”
The development is being assisted through grant funding from Public Health England and Big Lottery Fund.
Middlesbrough has a high level of need for preventative services due to the level of deprivation across the town and the variation in health inequalities.
Access to The Live Well Centre will be via a reception area in the middle of the Dundas Arcade.
The refurbishment will create a wide range of mixed-use space, including community gym and fitness studio; training kitchen; eight full-spec clinics; 10 private consultation rooms; an open IT facility; café area; group, craft, training and event rooms and hireable office space.
The centre will also house a self-contained family unit, enabling families to access services together, rather than navigate separate adult, children, and young people’s services for a multitude of support services.
The Live Well Centre also has a regenerative part to play in Middlesbrough Council’s investment plans.
Over the next four years the Council is committed to an injection of £74 million into a series of developments as part of the town’s far-reaching Investment Prospectus.
The aim is that this confidence in Middlesbrough’s growing stature as the city heart of the Tees Valley will act as a catalyst for the creation of 5,000 new jobs in the town, in tandem with more than £600 million of inward investment from the private sector and other parts of the public sector.