New digital mental health support platform for adults [Durham, Darlington and Teesside]

Kooth Plc are pleased to announce that Durham, Darlington & Teesside NHS Mental Health & Learning Disability Partnership has commissioned providing free, safe and anonymous digital mental health support to ALL adults over 18 in County Durham & Tees Valley.

Qwell is a safe and confidential online space where adults can share experiences and gain support from an online community and qualified mental health professionals. Adults can benefit from moderated discussion forums and self-help material.
Adults can use Qwell by dropping in for one-to-one text-based chats, or more structured booked sessions depending on individual needs. There is no waiting list, no referrals and no thresholds required to access the service, which is accredited by the BACP and delivered by Kooth Plc. Adults can sign up for a free account today by visiting

To launch the service professionals working in the area are invited to find out more by attending one of three event webinars happening early 2022.

The next virtual event takes place on 27th January at 10am. To find out more and book your place please visit:

Protesters Demonstrate Support for Women in Detention

The campaign against the incarceration of women asylum seekers in the former notorious Medomsley/Hassockfield Detention Centre (now renamed Derwentside IRC) has gathered pace over the past few months and is set to continue. The centre, which was originally due to open in September, was formally opened on November 23rd with an announcement by the Home Secretary Priti Patel in Parliament. At the same time Tom Pursglove MP, Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, was given a tour of the centre, the management of which has been outsourced to private company Mitie.

The opening of the centre was swiftly followed by a national demonstration in Consett town centre with a solidarity demonstration in London's Hyde Park.

At some point between Christmas and New Year a small number of women were transferred from Yarl's Wood to the Derwentside IRC. Dozens of campaigners responded by mounting an emergency noisy demonstration on Sunday January 2nd in order to show support for the women locked up inside, tying orange hearts to the fence, singing songs and chanting #SetHerFree

Northern Echo article : Detainees arrive at Derwentside Immigration Removal Centre.

Campaigner Alison Stancliffe says:

"Our work goes on to push for closure of the facility but right now we must continue turning out at Hassockfield so that the women incarcerated there feel reassured they’ve not been abandoned by the outside world. We’re confident that word of our support will reach the women and they’ll know the outside world has not forgotten them. But that means being there and not giving up. Every one of us turning out will be offering hope and comfort to someone’s mother, daughter or sister."

Agnes Tanoh from Women for Refugee Women who has worked tirelessly to get the centre closed down, says:

"This is personal for me. I claimed asylum here because I was being persecuted in my country and I thought I would be killed. But I was locked up at Yarl’s Wood for three months in 2012. I know how detention destroys a woman. Women become depressed and suicidal in detention. Detention tears families apart and achieves nothing other than extreme harm. Women seeking asylum need protection and freedom, they should never be locked up like this. It’s time to shut down all detention centres.”

Research by Women for Refugee Women shows that over 85% of the women who had been detained in Yarl’s Wood had experienced rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, forced prostitution or female genital mutilation.

Former MEP and Durham resident Julie Ward says:

"The UK is out of step with international human rights norms regarding its treatment of asylum seekers. We are the only country in the 47-member state Council of Europe that practises indefinite detention whereby people seeking sanctuary are held for months if not years not knowing when their nightmare will end, if they will eventually be given leave to remain or whether they will taken in the middle of the night to be deported.

Former GP, Dr Helen Groom, secretary of the No To Hassockfield Campaign says:

"Women asylum seekers are amongst the most vulnerable people in our society and they deserve our attention and compassion. The moving of women seeking sanctuary to this prison gives us added impetus to increase the campaign to get this dreadful place closed down once and for all."

Regular demonstrations at the site organised by a broad coalition of organisations will continue on the third Saturday of every month from 12-2pm with prayer vigils happening every first Sunday at 3pm organised by the Hexham and Newcastle Diocese Justice and Peace Forum. Meanwhile there are a number of practical initiatives being established to show support to the women locked up in the detention centre.

You can find out more from the following campaigns.

Durham People’s Assembly
Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Facebook - @durhampeoplesassembly

Abolish Detention
Facebook - Abolish Detention - Hassockfield
Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

No to Hassockfield
Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Facebook - @No2Hassockfield

Women for Refugee Women
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Facebook @4refugeewomen

NHS Community mental health survey results 2021

The NHS patient survey asked about the experiences of people who use community mental health services.  Specific reports for our regional trusts can be found at the bottom of this article.
This nationwide report, published at the beginning of December 2021 by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), shows that people are consistently reporting poor experiences of NHS community mental health services, with few positive results. Many people reported that their mental health had deteriorated as a result of changes made to their care and treatment due to the pandemic.

In some areas of care, such as accessing care, communication, support and wellbeing, results have been declining for a number of years.

Findings show that, across many areas of care, experience of using mental health services is at its lowest point throughout the eight-year period 2014 to 2021.

The analysis found people who received telephone-based care reported worse than average experiences in four key themes: overall experience, access, communication, and respect and dignity.

Positive results

Organising care and Medicines

Key areas for improvement

Accessing care, Crisis care, Involvement

Trusts and commissioners are expected to take action to improve services based on the results.

Breakdowns for the responses relating to our local trusts can be found here, including useful comparisons with other trusts in England.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) Benchmark Report 2021,%20Esk%20and%20Wear%20Valleys%20NHS%20Foundation%20Trust%20CMH21.pdf

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) Benchmark Report 2021,%20Northumberland,%20Tyne%20and%20Wear%20NHS%20Foundation%20Trust%20CMH21.pdf

Adult AD/HD Groups North East Support Groups [North East]

Contact: Bill Scott 07856212564 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. |

Support Group Meetings: November 2021
Middlesbrough (Tuesday 2nd  Nov) Langdon Square Community Centre Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough TS8 OTF
Durham (Thursday 11th Nov) Waddington Street Centre, 3 Waddington Street, Durham City DH1 4BG
South Shields (Thursday 18th ) Age Concern (ACTS) Dora Dixon House, 29 Beach Road / Corner of Anderson Street. NE33 2QU

Middlesbrough Tuesday 2nd November (6-8pm)

Langdon Square Community Centre Coulby Newham TS8 OTF
Thanks to Gordon Williams*, one of our long term allies in Middlesbrough, we will joining in with his new Neuro Key meetings at a new venue in Coulby Newham on the first Tuesday of every month! This gives us a fantastic opportunity to discuss the interrelationships between AD/HD and all the other neurodiverse comorbid conditions that can occur, including ADHD, ASD, PTSD, Brain injury, FASD, Tourett's etc.

The venue is great and there's a big free car park. As usual, everyone is welcome who has an interest in ADHD etc, including carers, family members, professionals working in the field etc. For further information about the venue, or Neuro key, an alliance supporting people with neurological conditions (established by Gordon) email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

facebook page @NeurokeyTVDNY And please check out Gordon’s amazing blog

Durham: Thursday 11th November  (6-9pm)

Thanks to our lovely friends at Waddy we will be having our support group meetings back in the heart of Durham City!  Venue: Waddington Street Centre, 3 Waddington Street, Durham City DH1 4BG

South Shields: Thursday 18th November (6-9pm)

Venue: Age Concern (ACTS) Dora Dixon House, 29 Beach Road / corner of Anderson Street, South Shields NE33 2QU. Thanks once again to Age Concern for their invaluable support.

We look forward to seeing everybody who can make it along to any of our meetings.

Consultation: "CNTW 2030, Imagining our future, together"

How you can help shape the future of CNTW.

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) provides a range of mental health, learning disability and neurological care services across the north of England.

CNTW 2030 is a project to imagine CNTW’s future role in improving the health of local communities.  The Trust wants to consider the likely challenges and opportunities heading towards the next decade.  Above all,  they want to learn from the recent experience of people who have been involved with CNTW, whether as a patient, carer, member of staff or as an organisational partner.

New online support for carers in County Durham

Register for FREE digital resources and get the help you need today

Caring for a loved one who is ill, disabled or older can be valuable and rewarding, but without the right support caring can have an impact on your health, your job, your finances and your social life.

Durham County Council has teamed up with Carers UK to offer carers in the county a comprehensive solution that brings together Carers UK’s digital products and online resources with the council's own information and support for carers onto a single webpage.

To create an account and get free access to all the products and support resources and create a new account by using the access code for Durham DGTL2485.

CICADA Study: Chronic Conditions and Disabilities and Migrants / Ethnic minoritisation

We have been asked to promote the CICADA (Coronavirus Intersectionalities: Chronic Conditions and Disabilities and Migrants / Ethnic minoritisation) study working with people who are from minority ethnic groups and have a long-term disability/illness - mental as well as physical, diagnosed or undiagnosed. They are looking for people who are specifically based in North-East England, and who come from a minority ethnic group and have mental health difficulties, to take part in an interview.

Participants are given a £20 shopping voucher as a thank you.

You can find out more about this study on their website:

To sign up or for more info, message their facebook group:
Or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cicada interview poster


No To Hassockfield—local Campaign Opposing Immigration Detention Centre at Medolmsley Continues

Plans to re-open the site of the notorious Medomsley Detention Centre as an Immigration Detention Centre for women, have continued. However, whilst the Ministry of Justice had said it would open in the summer, in discussion with the No To Hassockfield campaign they have confirmed it is more likely to have its first women detainees around the end of October.

The campaign against its opening has grown in size. together with Abolish Detention, Durham Peoples Assembly and Women for Refugee Women, N2H are holding demonstrations the 3rd Saturday of each month 11-2pm at the site. Local ITV news gave coverage to August’s demo.

There is a prayer vigil held every 1st Sunday of the month at 3pm, organised by the justice and peace movement, and every Saturday, Dorothy Sotelo of No to Hassockfield is co-ordinating a group of 3-4 demonstrators to be present for an hour to make some noise at the site. This will become increasingly important when detainees are present at the site.

Richard Holden, the area’s Conservative MP has claimed the centre will provide good quality jobs, which he says are much needed for local residents.

Peter Hill, trade unionist said “Richard Holden MP claims the centre will bring many 'good jobs' to the area. But these jobs will be with outsourcing firm Mitie, notorious for its bad employment practices across a range of sectors, as well as its mistreatment of detainees. Just this year, unions Unite, Unison and GMB have condemned Mitie for discriminatory policies against workers (at Heathrow airport), Covid safety failures, and breaking promises to pay the living wage and unsocial hours payments (for NHS workers during the Covid pandemic). He doesn't mention the alternative use for the Hassockfield site: a housing and leisure development which had previously been planned. That would bring local jobs too - if the centre's development was cancelled.”

The campaign against the centre opening is extremely concerned about the effect of indefinite detention on detainees’ mental health. While detention of any kind should not be used for people who are fleeing war and persecution, it should be noted that the UK is the only member of the 47 Member State Council of Europe to use the inhumane practice of indefinite detention.

Helen Groom, retired Gateshead GP and No To Hassockfield Campaigner said;

“As a GP in Gateshead I looked after two ex-detainees from Medomsley whose lives were blighted by severe PTSD and memories of the abuse they suffered there. I’m horrified to think that we could now be locking up women, many of whom have already been deeply traumatised, when what they are seeking is sanctuary. I want to see Hassockfield closed before it opens, so that no more suffering takes place on this site.”

The Home Office say that timescales for opening the centre (which they have rechristened Derwentside IRC as a marketing change) have slipped a bit . They have a number of things that they must do before opening which include building medical facilities (which Durham County Council gave planning permission for in late August), providing multi faith chaplaincy, and setting up an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) recruitment for which took place during September.

Julie Ward, Former MEP Mental Health Ambassador, women's rights campaigner and member of the No To Hassockfield Campaign, said,
"Women are hugely impacted by conflict and various global crises, including climate breakdown, which leads to unsustainable lives, extreme poverty, hunger, increased violence and risk of trafficking. We also see how authoritarian regimes seek to limit women's freedoms and punish them for aspiring to be educated, to run businesses, to stand for elected office, to wear what they wish.

Women asylum seekers have often experienced terrible violence at every stage of their journeys. Detention is a form of institutional state violence, which can have a profound psychological impact for years to come. Instead of locking up vulnerable women with the intention of deporting them back to face the likelihood of more violence, we should be treating them with compassion and dignity. The UK is out of step with many of its neighbours in the way it treats those seeking asylum.

It would be very easy for those of us in the UK to give up, to turn our backs and do nothing. But fundamentally we are a welcoming nation and in joining the campaign to Stop Hassockfield we can feel energised and empowered through collective action. The very act of protest is an act of resistance which can help to assuage our own feelings of helplessness. Standing in solidarity with people seeking sanctuary and against the government's inhumane system is a joyful act of resistance. At our regular monthly peaceful protests outside the site we sing, enjoy poems, watch theatre performances and listen to inspiring speeches and moving testimonies. We have made new friends and we have discovered new things about ourselves. We feel we CAN do something and that alone is good for our mental health. We have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others."

MHNE have spoken out against the government’s plans for the site and continue to support the No 2 Hassockfield campaign, committing to do everything we can to monitor the mental health and wellbeing of anyone held at this proposed facility.

If people want to know more about the campaign or any of the demonstrations, please email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or visit the campaign website: or on Facebook - @No2Hassockfield   /  Twitter @No2Hassockfield

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: and if you have your own concerns, please consider writing to the local press. The campaign is on Twitter at @NoToHassockfield and

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:

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