Norwich mental health centre to close

Mental health bosses have moved to defend their decision to scrap a vital centre in the city as fears mount for the people who use the facility.

More than 100 people with mental health problems regard the Mind Resource Centre in Lower Gate Lane as their “lifeline” and were devastated to be told last month it would be closing down.

The day centre is used by about 120 people five days a week who have a long term mental illness and are referred either social services or mental health teams.

Everyone partakes in activities such as pottery and creative writing and they can learn computer skills and also go on social outings but the government no longer believe these types of centres are viable.

All the users were initially told by mental health bosses they would be offered alternative support and would be able to use the Bridges Centre in Magdalen Street instead.

But today they were told they would probably all be split up with many offered care just in “mainstream services” and on an individual basis.

Barbara Luxton, 57, a mother-of-one from Dereham has been using the centre for the past five years. She suffers from manic depression and said the centre has helped her overcome numerous problems.

“We are all so upset about this decision,” she said. “We are trying to do what we can do fight it. I have many friends there and this gets us through life, we will be stuck without it.

“They told us first of all that we would be able to stick together but now they have said we are all going to be offered separate help and some will be treated in mainstream care.

“This is devastating news for us because it means we can’t mix with our friends and other people who understand our problems.”

Since the centre opened in 1994 as part of the Mind mental health charity’s day centre programme it has encouraged each person who attends to seek a self-supportive lifestyle and gain enough knowledge of themselves and their illness to enable them to cope with day to day living in the community.

Mind bosses said the changes in day services is a “positive move” for people and should not be regarded as a cut in services.

Sandra Flannigan from Norwich Mind said: “This is a transformation of day services and everyone affected will receive some kind of alternative care.

“This might seem very hard at the moment but this transition process will give people more choice and more opportunities. In the long term it will be to people’s advantage but it is hard for us to say anymore right now.

“We are not seeing it as closing anywhere but as transforming services.”

The Mind Resource Centre will close next spring.