A CENTRE is opening a new “mental health cafe” later this month.

The St Margaret’s Centre in Durham, which supports adults with a range of mental health problems, is opening the new venue as a way of giving new opportunities to the people who attend the centre, as well as create a new space in the city for anyone who needs it.

The cafe, which is in a newly renovated section of the building in Margery Lane, is due to open to the general public on January 21.

Named The Old School Cafe, a nod to the history of the building, it is hoped it will also be a source of income for the charity, which runs a range of activities in joinery, horticulture, arts and crafts and upholstery.

Supporters of the charity, and those who helped with the renovations, had the chance to have a look at the finished cafe last month.

Centre manager Rob Chatwin said: “One of the things we want to do is try and help people with mental health problems get some sort of meaningful occupation.

“The research we did when we looked at Durham was there are a large amount of opportunities around hospitality but a lot of people lack the confidence in applying for positions.

“We thought let’s take this on and we can give them the skills required and the confidence to go into hospitality.”

He added: “We also just wanted to have somewhere that was nice that could be a community hub.

“We want it to be a safe environment for people who feel they need to talk to people.

“They can come in and meet people and we have the skills and the knowledge to signpost them to other agencies.”

People attending the centre will run the cafe and will have the chance to learn skills needed for hospitality, including customer service, how to do things like operate the till and get health and hygiene certificates.

It is hoped when the cafe is up and running it will serve some of the food grown at the centre’s allotment.

The renovations, to the former upholstery workshop, have been made by staff members, instructors and centre users, who have also made the tables, chairs and decor.

Mr Chatwin added: “Everyone has taken a real pride in doing it.

“It’s a lovely environment to come and sit, eat something and have a drink.”