New NEA Report - It’s cold up North: Fuel Poverty and the Energy Crisis in the North East

A new insights report released by National Energy Action (NEA) in partnership with Citizens Advice Newcastle highlights the current context of the energy crisis and its impact upon households across the North East of England, giving a snapshot of fuel poverty in the region.

The report, ‘It’s Cold Up North: Fuel Poverty and the Energy Crisis in the North East of England’ reveals the extent of national and regional issues associated with the energy crisis, including levels of energy stress in the region, rising levels of energy debt and challenges associated with prepayment meters and mouldy and damp homes. It concludes with recommendations on the actions required to address the impacts of fuel poverty and rising energy costs upon households.

The report is published as part of a broader work programme in the region examining policy and practice responses to fuel poverty. NEA are looking to grow the newly formed North East Fuel Poverty Alliance (NEFPA) among organisations in the region. Please email Helen Stockton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

To read the report:

[Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is 30th November]

Derwentside Women’s Immigration Removal Centre to be repurposed as all-male facility

The campaign to close Derwentside continues

In October the Home Office confirmed its intention to convert Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in County Durham from a facility just for women to an all-male facility. The centre will expand from 84 to 120 beds. It’s understood that the change will take place in January 2024. The campaign group No To Hassockfield (former name for Derwentside IRC)  have confirmed their commitment to continuing to campaign to close the site down.

In a press statement Dr. Helen Groom chairperson of No To Hassockfield said;

“We have to remember that the majority of women and, in future, men, who are locked up in Derwentside want to be here, want to work and want to contribute. The UK remains the only country in Europe to have no time limit on how long migrants can be detained.

“The No To Hassockfield Campaign has consistently highlighted the unsuitability of Derwentside as an Immigration Prison, given its remoteness, the lack of local legal and migrant support services and its poor mobile phone signals. These views were supported by the government’s own Independent Monitoring Board and recognised in a Home Office communication.  These issues will continue after the change to an all-male facility.

No To Hassockfield recognises that detention without a time limit is cruel, unnecessary and often catastrophic to detainees' mental health.

The campaign would welcome support from mental health professionals to help with a better understanding of the profound damage that loss of liberty and all hope causes for people who are already deeply traumatised by having to leave their homes and undertake long and arduous journeys to seek sanctuary. If you’re interested in getting involved please contact us directly.

Contact No to Hassockfield:
Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Facebook - @No2Hassockfield
Twitter - #No2Hassockfield
Instagram – No2Hassockfield

FREE – female recovery through experience and empowerment [Durham support group]

FREE – female recovery through experience and empowerment

Group sessions, a safe place to share, delivered from women with experience. Women who’ve been there, lived through abuse, addiction, and mental health, and are passionate about helping.

Any females within County Durham who have experienced abuse, addiction or mental health.

Women connecting with women, supporting each other to improve their health and wellbeing.

Durham City Methodist
28 North Road
(next to the bus station)

Every Tuesday and Friday
10:00am – 2:00pm

For more information about FREE please contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Weekly Peer Support at Man Health [County Durham / NE]

ManHealth run peer support groups in and around County Durham and the North East of England. Peer support takes place when people with experience of poor mental health support each other towards better wellbeing, as people of equal value and on a reciprocal basis, using their own lived experience as a tool for support.

Please see below sessions taking place over County Durham.

Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust (rear of building)
25-28 High Street
DL16 6DB
Monday 6:00pm – 8:00pm


Bullion Hall
South Approach
Bullion Lane
Tuesday 6:00pm – 8:00pm


Newton Aycliffe
Youth & Community Centre
Burn Lane
Tuesday 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Bishop Auckland
Henknowle Community Association
Cumbria Place
DL14 6TJ
Thursday 6:00pm – 8:00pm

For up to date information about groups in the region see:

Help to reopen Birtley Swimming Centre

Gateshead Council closed Birtley Swimming Centre on Friday 21st July.  A project team comprising local community volunteers alongside members of Birtley and Gateshead and Whickham swimming clubs, plans to reopen Birtley Swimming Centre in April 2024 as a Community Asset which will be run by a new not for profit charitable organisation.  The activities they are planning will support the physical health and mental well-being of the local community.  

Please help by making a donation or buying a reward:

The project is seeking at least £20,000 to be pledged by 3rd November 2023 at 4:00pm.

Join the Eating Distress Learning Community [North East Region]

Eating Distress North East (EDNE) are facilitating a regional network for staff from VCSE organisations who would like to learn more about eating distress so they can support service users better within the community. The work is funded by the Adult Eating Disorder Provider Collaborative (part of the North East and North Cumbria ICS) and is aimed at organisations working with people aged 16+.
The Eating Distress Learning Community was launched in the summer and now has over 70 members who access free training and support around eating distress to improve their knowledge, skills, and confidence.

It will also allow organisations to influence pathways and service commissioning. Members will become more knowledgeable about eating distress, more confident to ask the right questions, more capable of understanding and supporting individuals within their service, and more aware of signposting or referring to EDNE or more specialist eating disorder services.

New members are always welcome and you can sign up to the EDLC here.

Ask the Expert podcast series - Episode 1 - Washington Mind

Youthwatch Sunderland volunteers have been busy completing the podcast series 'Ask the expert', currently focusing on the mental health support available to young people across the city.

Episode one of the podcast has just gone live and features Angela and Christine who work for Washington Mind, explaining  all about the services offered there and Lucy, who talks about her experiences as a young service user.

Mental health fears after Gateshead leisure centre closures

Mental Health North East were in the press again  this week, contributing to this article in the Evening Chronicle about the mental health impact of the recent closures (July 2023) of Gateshead Leisure Centre and Birtley Swimming pool.

In the article we told the Chronicle that the community have described the loss of the Centre as like a bereavement and called on Gateshead Council to carry out a full assessment of what impact the closures will have on the health of Gateshead residents.

The only response from Gateshead Council officials appears to be to advise affected residents to sign up for Heritage walks and use their local parks (where available). We think this response is entirely unsatisfactory, and would like the council to take much more action to mitigate the impact of closures and sustain leisure provision, which is critical to good physical and mental health, whether through the current asset transfer being explored, or some other means.

Find out more and join the campaign to save Gateshead Leisure Centre here (Save Leisure Gateshead Facebook group):

and learn more about Gateshead Active who hope to take on Gateshead Leisure Centre as a Community Asset Transfer (CAT):

Access to healthcare for people seeking asylum in initial and contingency accommodation – toolkit for primary care commissioners and providers

This toolkit summarises good practice for Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), primary care commissioners and providers in the provision of primary care services for people seeking asylum supported by the Home Office in initial and contingency accommodation. It aims to ensure equality in access to services and improved long-term health outcomes for residents in Home Office accommodation, minimising health inequalities and encouraging collaborative working with accommodation providers and other local stakeholders.

Newcastle Wellbeing Hubs

Many people are feeling the pinch right now because of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. This is having a direct impact on the health, wellbeing, and happiness of our communities.

Wellbeing Hubs have been set up across Newcastle in community centres, places of worship, and charities. Initially Winter Wellbeing Hubs, these offer a free, safe space for residents to go to. There, people can access services such as:

  •     Free hot food and food parcels
  •     Energy advice
  •     Advice on benefits and financial support
  •     Arts and crafts
  •     Sport and physical activities
  •     Training and development opportunities
  •     Information sharing and signposting
  •     and more

To find your local Wellbeing Hub, and for information about opening hours, go to: