PEOPLE seeking help and support from a mental health resource centre are to feel the benefit of a welcome breath of fresh air.

Support from Durham City Freemen is helping the Waddington Street Centre, an independently-run charity celebrating its 40th anniversary this month, to complete an improvement to facilities.

The centre has provided a haven for up to 120 members of the community struggling to cope with the stress of modern living, aggravated over the last 20 months by the additional tensions created by Covid restrictions.

But one benefit brought by the lockdown closures has been the opportunity to give the terraced property a major face-lift, the result of the generosity of city developers and other donors.

The latest £250 donation, from the freemen’s charitable trust, will help meet the £1,000 cost of the work at the centre, which re-opened in August.

Centre manager Ali Lee said: “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, which is 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 20-strong team of 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.

The centre has set a target of £40,000, to mark their 40th anniversary, to cover costs of providing a new 14-seater mini bus to replace their ageing transport.

But, so far, have achieved 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.”

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