The headquarters of a Northumberland mental health charity have been given a much-needed makeover thanks to a four-figure grant from the North East’s biggest building society.
Contact Morpeth Mental Health works to support people in the community who are recovering from or experiencing mental health problems and their carers by providing information and advice on a wide range of related issues.
Earlier this year, the long-standing independent charity was awarded a £2,950 grant through Newcastle Building Society’s Market Place branch in the town for refurbishment work at its Oldgate, Greys Yard headquarters, which have been closed for the last six months due to the pandemic
Improvement work carried out during the closure includes new carpeting for the hallway and stairs, which has been laid by Paul Taylor of Castle Carpets in Morpeth, as well new safety lighting and new fire signs.
Soundproofing has also been added to the floor of the charity’s counselling rooms to ensure private conversations don’t carry to other parts of the building.
Measures have also been put in place to make the building Covid-safe and the charity is hoping to reopen it to service users in the near future.
Set up more than 30 years ago, Contact Morpeth Mental Health works with around 110 service users who are based right across south east Northumberland and has continued to support them while the building has been out of action by providing telephone counselling services where required.
In normal times, it offers a wide range of activities, including craft, mindfulness and photography sessions, and is hoping to introduce a number of new options when the building reopens, including healthy eating, fitness and music groups.
It also runs a popular café within its premises and is supported by a growing team of volunteers and trustees.
Rhona Dunn, volunteer chair at Contact Morpeth Mental Health, says: “Our headquarters is really well used for a wide range of different activities, but the wear and tear that it’s suffered as a result has been increasingly obvious and we’ve been keen to get this work done for a long time.
“The refurbishment has made a huge difference to both how the building looks and the environment we can offer to our services users, and while we’ll only be able to accommodate limited numbers in the first instance, we can’t wait to be able to welcome everyone back.
“The mental health impact of the pandemic has been widely reported and we’ve seen clear evidence of this among our service users, so we’ve adapted the services we provide to make sure they’re getting the support and advice they’ve needed.
“There’s no way we could have afforded to get this work done without their generous help of Newcastle Building Society and we’re hugely grateful for their support with this project.”
Andy Rose, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Morpeth branch, adds: “Contact Morpeth Mental Health makes a real difference to the lives of lots of people living in and around the local area, and as part of our own contribution to the well-being of our community, we’ve previously been able to support them by providing meeting space within our branch.
“We’re really pleased to be extending our relationship with Contact Morpeth Mental Health through this project and happy to see how much of a difference the refurbishment has made to its headquarters.”
The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which was set up to offer grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £1.8m in grants and partnerships with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Princes Trust. The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Society also made a £100,000 contribution to the £1m appeal set up by the Tyne and Wear Community Foundation for its Coronavirus Recovery and Response Fund.
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.