No to Hassockfield! MHNE Supports Campaign raising Concerns over Return to Detention at Medomsley

In January it was suddenly announced that Detention would return to a site in County Durham. A campaign group was formed, No to Hassockfield, to oppose the Home Office & Ministry of Justice plan to turn former Medomsley Detention Centre into an Immigration Removal Centre for women.

MHNE Chairperson Neil Kelly says “our main concern is that mental health and wellbeing issues for those who will be detained there have not been factored into these plans.”

Owain Gardner, core member of the campaign group, says: “The shadow of Medomsley’s past will hang heavily over the women detained there and the workers who oversee them. Its reputation for brutality and abuse of imprisoned young men is widely known.

Now known as Hassockfield, it is a place which causes pain across the North East to this day. The original plan was to demolish the buildings on-site, replacing them with housing, including affordable homes, landscaping, investment in local schools, a doctor’s surgery’s and more. They have simply railroaded this plan out of existence at short notice, with no local scrutiny and no local voice was heard, despite the site’s history.”

Owen Temple, a Durham County Councillor also from the group, was stunned to learn that none of the men abused at Medomsley nor any of the workers who had been employed at the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre were consulted.   The mental health implications of an Immigration Removal Centre being forced onto County Durham are immense, especially as the investigation into Medomsley Detention Centre, Operation Seabrook, is still taking evidence.

Former MEP Julie Ward said "As a woman who campaigns vigorously to end violence against women, I am appalled at the government's continued use of detention in respect of vulnerable women, many of whom are already deeply traumatised by their experiences. Women asylum seekers experience violence at every stage of their journey and many suffer PTSD. It is time for the UK to end this cruel unnecessary practice. We can’t thank MHNE enough for their support in this campaign.”
The centre is due to open this Summer, with a view to holding up to 87 women, despite the Westminster Government’s policy being to reduce both the Estate and numbers in detention.

Ultimately, however, the mental health implications for those women who will be held there are too often ignored. Agnes Tonah, a former Asylum Seeker who was held in Yarl’s Wood, spoke to No To Hassockfield saying: “detention destroys a woman. Women become depressed and suicidal. This is personal for me… I don't want to see this happen to any of my sisters who are looking for safety."

The campaign has grown from nothing to having local, national and international reach. From Lord Alf Dubs supporting the campaign to an article in the Observer and even attention in Brussels. Find out more here: https://northeastbylines.co.uk/no-to-hassockfield/ and if you have your own concerns, please consider writing to the local press. The campaign is on Twitter at @NoToHassockfield and https://www.facebook.com/groups/358544485247513

'Let's eat pies and talk about men's mental health'

Men’s Pie Club is about local guys, making pies. Supported by Food Nation, a social enterprise based in Newcastle, MPC was developed in response to the need for increasing levels of social connections and feelings of belonging for men in the North East of England.

This year, McColl's Brewery, based in Bishop Auckland launched a new brew in a can: Black and White Pepper Bitter 'Let's eat pies and talk about men's mental health'.  Brewery co-owner Danny McColl's hopes to raise £2500 with £1 from every can of beer donated to MPC (you can also donate directly on MPC's website).

Jamie Sadler, who set up MPC said - "We’re so chuffed to be working with Danny and Gemma on this, it really is a great opportunity to raise funds, the profile of Men's Pie Club and our efforts to tackle issues associated with social isolation. We’re also very proud to be collaborating with McColl’s to make this happen, they completely understand what we are trying to achieve – and they make incredible beer!"

Read more here, including a recipe for the perfect chicken pie and how to buy Black Pepper Bitter online: https://mccollsbrewery.co.uk/blogs/news/lets-eat-pies-recipe-all-for-a-great-cause

CNTW NHS Reassurances that Mental Health Services availability

As England enters a third national lockdown to control the spread of a new variant of COVID-19, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) are reassuring the public that NHS mental health and learning disability services across North Cumbria and the North East are still available.

John Lawlor OBE, Chief Executive at CNTW, said: “We know that many people are understandably worried about catching or spreading the virus. People are also worried about being a ‘burden’ when the NHS system is under pressure. But the NHS is here to support your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as your physical health.  We want to reassure everyone that CNTW are continuing to provide mental health and learning disability services during this challenging period.  

"You shouldn’t put off seeing a doctor about a physical health condition, and the same goes for your mental health: the earlier you seek help, the better.

"It is understandable if you feel you need more mental health support at the moment. Lots of people are facing increased stress and anxiety, about their own health and the health of friends and family, bereavements, financial insecurity, and changes to how they must live and work.

“Mental health services are still open and providing advice, care and treatment from our expert professionals. If you feel like you need some more support, please speak to your GP or Care Coordinator."

Where people can seek help:

NHS psychological therapies services (also known as IAPT, which stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) can help with a range of common mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders and panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder. You can refer yourself for support, or ask your GP to make a referral for you. Find more details about your local psychological therapies service here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/

If someone is in a mental health crisis and needs urgent help, they can call CNTW's regional crisis teams 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These are emergency specialist teams, working with all ages and mental health conditions, and will ensure you get the help you need:

·         For the Northumberland and North Tyneside Universal Crisis Team call 0800 6522 861. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 07887625277.)

·         For the Sunderland and South Tyneside Universal Crisis Team call 0800 6522 867. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 07889036280.)

·         For the Newcastle and Gateshead Universal Crisis Team call 0800 6522 863. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 07919 228 548.)

·         For the North Cumbria Universal Crisis Team call 0800 6522 865. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 0779 565 6226.)

For mental health emergencies where someone's life is at risk or where you cannot keep someone safe, you should dial 999 or go to your nearest Emergency (A&E) Department. Specialist mental health clinicians work at A&E departments across the region, who will be able to assess and treat mental health conditions.

CNTW also offers a range of award-winning self-help guides, offering information and practical advice on coping with issues including anxiety, sleeping problems and stress. They are available in a variety of formats, including audio and British Sign Language, and can be found online at www.cntw.nhs.uk/selfhelp.

Freephone Crisis Line [County Durham and Darlington]

Did you know there is a dedicated freephone telephone service to offer emotional support to individuals living in County Durham and Darlington who are in mental or emotional distress?

Please make a note of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys' crisis telephone number 0800 0516171 in case you, or a loved one, should ever need support in a mental health emergency.

The service is for all ages including those with learning disabilities and/or autism, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering local people the opportunity to talk to trained mental health support workers about whatever is troubling them.

Advice and information on what to do in a crisis situation can be found here.

Letter to North East MPs : Funding Alert Sounded across the North East Mental Health Sector

MHNE have written an open letter to every MP in the North East to express our grave concerns about what we feel are the poor state of mental health services in the region today.

Since MHNE began in 2005 we have heard many words from politicians about how they are/were going to support and improve mental health services but we have witnessed little improvement. We have seen money moved from one location to another and described as new money but have seen no real new investment. We have witnessed waiting lists grow and we have seen one voluntary sector service after the other close.

There is still excellent work going on in the NHS, local government and in the voluntary sector but it feels as if the Government are acting in a piecemeal fashion to a real crises in the mental health sector as a result of COVID. Already stretched and underfunded services are finding it extremely difficult to cope with increased demand.

We will publish all responses from MPs in full and will indeed inform you if we do not receive a response. MHNE welcome your views on this matter.  Up to date responses can be found here.

Here is a copy of the text of our letter:

Mental Health North East is a small volunteer run charity covering the North East region. We are writing to you as a North East MP to request that you actively support our campaign for improved mental health services in the North East region.

Coronavirus has created a crisis, and after it has passed there will be further crises which impact every aspect of community and society:  an economic crisis, an unemployment crisis, a public health crisis, an education crisis, a social care crisis, a loneliness crisis, a domestic violence crisis, a child abuse crisis, an addiction crisis, a mental health crisis.
Mental Health voluntary organisations are experiencing massive growth in demand for listening and support services to the point where budgets are stretched to extremes. These organisations are dealing with a tidal wave of callers overwhelmed by stress and anxiety which are appropriate responses to extremely challenging circumstances.

Severe acute conditions caused by grief, loss and hopelessness will become part of the natural pattern of afflictions. There are catastrophic funding implications for the Voluntary and Charity sector that will see many well-established charities and safety nets broken and disappearing altogether. As you will know, the sector is already covering for ever-diminishing community provision from cash strapped local authorities and statutory health providers.

The effect of lockdown alone will be sustained and significant. Incidents of domestic violence and domestic homicide have already increased. As will child abuse, family breakdown, child distress, suicide, alcohol and drug use, physical health difficulties, poverty, homelessness, isolation, and the impact of a collective, worldwide trauma. Groups that suffer the disproportionate burden of multiple disadvantages will be further hit by an impact that we anticipate will be extreme and prolonged.

Social distancing and intermittent lockdown will likely be with us long after this initial battle. We witnessed a beleaguered NHS buckling under the demands of saving lives in this first wave.  The second and subsequent waves will make the same demands of public health, social care, mental health, and education.  As feeling distressed becomes the norm, existing mental health conditions have been exacerbated on a vast scale.

Mental Health North East therefore calls upon the UK Government:
To restore the funding lost to the mental health services in the North East and other areas of the UK. Underfunding of mental health services has resulted in huge financial losses to the UK in terms of additional support services but also has a huge economic impact on business and this has directly and indirectly resulted in preventable suicides. The current pandemic is making this situation much worse. To invest money in mental health services will not only alleviate the suffering of many people but could also save money in the long term.

 

New helpline launched by North East charity to support prisoners’ families

A new helpline has been launched to support  people in the North East navigating their way through the criminal justice system. 

Nepacs (a north east charity)  introduced the new helpline to offer information and support to individuals, their families and loved ones at the point of arrest, at court, throughout a prison sentence, and on release. Their friendly team of helpline volunteers are available to offer a listening ear to those who need someone to talk to, and provide important information about processes and next steps.

The new helpline is part of the charity’s ‘Early days in custody’ project which is funded for three years by National Lottery Reaching Communities fund and a legacy gift donated to Nepacs from the Newcastle and Northumberland Police Courts Mission Fund.

The helpline team can be contacted by: Freephone 0800 012 1539, Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Text 07983 437 457 and is open: Monday and Friday 12noon - 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am - 2pm.
 
The,helpline coordinator Emma Price, said: “The first few days when a loved one is sent to prison can be the most difficult and distressing time for everyone involved.
 
“The new helpline will enable us to help those  in the north east impacted by a loved one being sentenced to custody and trying to come to terms with the difficulties they are facing, such as problems with housing, finances, children, and health and wellbeing
 
“Our helpline volunteers work closely with our teams in north east courts, prisons and visits areas, and our youth project team to ensure families or friends are offered the support they need to get through this difficult time and are signposted to relevant services in the community which can help them.”
 
Nepacs is recruiting more volunteers to join the helpline team.  Volunteers will enable families to feel informed as they navigate their way through the criminal justice system, and will help people to stay connected in this challenging situation. If you are friendly, non-judgemental, patient and have excellent listening skills the charity would love to hear from you. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Nepacs volunteer coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0191 375 7278.
 
For more information about the support available to families or friends with a loved one in a north east prison please visit the Nepacs website www.nepacs.co.uk

North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network – Website Launch

The North East and North Cumbria’s Suicide Prevention Network website is now live, covering the whole North East and North Cumbria area.

The website will provide resources for people seeking help about suicide and mental wellbeing and for people who work in suicide prevention. It will also include guidance for those who have been bereaved by suicide. Making good information easily accessible to those who need it is one of the Network’s key objectives.

The Network’s ‘Every Life Matters’ campaign aims to stop losing lives to suicide. This complements the national Public Health England Every Mind Matters programme, which is part of the public health priority to focus on the general mental health and wellbeing of the wider population.

During the current crisis, it’s even more important that we look after our mental health and wellbeing. The North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network is a regional partnership of organisations and individuals, collaborating across different agencies and communities, to help enhance and support all suicide prevention activity across the region. The Network works across the NHS, social care and other front-line services to link up with local charities and community resilience groups co-ordinating efforts to get support and information to those who need it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The Network is focused on people in our communities who are more at risk and are struggling and may be at an increased risk because of the current situation.  

To reach those vulnerable members of the public who may not have access to online support, the Network have commissioned Every Life Matters Cumbria to produce a booklet which contains self-help information and links for mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak, including signposting for urgent support and suicide prevention. This will be available across the region with distribution following a phased approach, initially targeting vulnerable groups.

The Network aims to:

• Promote wellbeing and resilience
• Reduce the number of suicides, including in high-risk groups, across the ICS
• Reduce the incidence of self-harm and repeated self-harm
• Reduce the impact of self-harm and suicide
• Reduce the stigma of self-harm and suicide

For further information visit www.stopsuicidenenc.org

Twitter @StopSuicideNENC
Facebook  StopSuicideNENC
Instagram  StopSuicideNENC

Northern Mental Health Support website launches

The Northern Mental Health Support web site has been put together by Newcastle University in partnership with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW). The aim of the site is to help any individual or family struggling with issues of social isolation, particularly as we all struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.

https://northernmentalhealth.org/

On the site you will find advice, resources and links around how to maintain your mental health, exercise, socialising (at a distance), dealing with financial problems as well as a section specifically on resources in the CNTW Trust footprint in North Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear.

There is also a section where you can provide feedback and suggestions of additional resources and ideas that could be added to the site.

North East Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund - Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland

Through the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, we will award grants to local charities and community organisations across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland in two stages: response, then recovery. In the response stage, we will get extra money to organisations that we know are supporting older people and other vulnerable groups affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. In the recovery stage, we will fund a wider group of local charities and community organisations whose operations and finances have been affected so they can recover and continue their activities once the outbreak eases.

https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk/coronavirusfund/

We will work to make sure the fund reaches the communities that need the most support. We are in touch with local charity umbrella bodies and front-line organisations to see what’s needed and how funds can be spent. From our 30 years’ plus experience, we know a lot of these organisations and so will quickly be able to assist them. We expect the first wave of funding will go to organisations working with older people who are likely to be most seriously affected by social isolation and illness caused by the virus.

Direct link to the Just Giving page:

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/CoronavirusFund

Sensory Garden at Darlington Mind

Darlington Mind is a mental health charity which promotes health and wellbeing to assist those experiencing mental distress and want to improve their lives.  The organisation runs a wide range of activities including a gardening group and dementia day-care service.

They are pleased to have recently accepted two occupational therapy students from Teesside University to assist the team. The students will be running a project to establish a sensory garden, at Mind’s Darlington Town Centre site. This aims to benefit people accessing existing services and the wider community. This includes bringing people closer together (particularly those suffering from dementia), providing them with a safe place to engage in activity and stimulate their senses.

Darlington Mind want to involve local people in the development of the sensory garden; including care homes, local charities and individuals who wish to be involved. They is looking to run regular cognitive stimulation sessions within the garden to provide relief, relaxation and mindfulness.

They would be pleased to hear from individuals, families, local care homes and charities who are interested in being involved. For more information please contact - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call our reception on 01325 283169.