Harmony House, a registered service for adults with learning disabilities, dementia and mental health needs based in Hebburn, has shared service users’ experiences of life in lockdown as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

The service, on Cuthbert Street, is home to adults with complex mental health needs, for whom living through the national lockdown can add an additional layer of pressure.

Kelly Wilson, manager at Harmony House, said: “Our service users have actually adapted to this new way of living very well. We are regularly updating them of the situation with the virus which has definitely helped to make everyone feel more at ease.

“Part of our usual daily routine was to encourage our service users to be independent, for instance doing their own shopping, which also enabled them to be active. While they are unable to go to the shops as they normally would, we have planned lots of socially distanced garden activities to ensure they are still active.”

During lockdown, Harmony House has planned activities such as basketball, football, BBQs and VE Day celebrations, with suggestions from service users about the sort of entertainment they would like to see.

When asked about how they have found lockdown so far, Susan Skelton a resident at Harmony House, said: “I was frightened at first as I would not be able to see my friends at my drama group, but staff helped me through it and to understand what was going on in the world. I am coping a lot better and have learned new skills in house and I love helping the staff”

Another service user, Angela Shepherd said: “I have only managed with this because of the staff and have felt really looked after. COVID-19 is really serious and we are lucky to have what we have and for it not to have entered the building. I feel very safe here.”

The service has also received donations from the local community including food hampers and toiletries, as well as PPE.

Kelly added: “We can’t thank our local community enough for their support and kind gifts. It has really meant a lot to our staff and residents so I’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to anyone who has sent us lovely gifts or messages.”