Norwich mental health centre closes down

A vital Norwich centre which is regarded as a “lifeline” by more than 100 people with mental health problems has closed its doors for the last time.

The Mind Resource Centre in Lower Goat Lane was officially closed down yesterday as health bosses say they are “transforming” day services.

However there are fears for the future of people who use the centre as they are now going to be “split up” and sent to different facilities.

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

They took part in activities such as pottery and creative writing and also learned computer skills and went on social outings.

But the government no longer believes these types of centres are viable and users were informed last summer they would have to use alternative facilities which were allocated on an “individual basis”.

Barbara Luxton, 58, 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.

She said she was fearful some of her friends would be left without the support they need and could turn to self-harm.

She said: “We are all really upset about this decision. I’m worried my friends could injure themselves badly or take an overdose.

“I get really bad sometimes but when I’m down they cheer me up. We have a great laugh together and cheer each other up.

“We’re still going to keep in contact but it’s going to be hard because I’m out at Dereham and I haven’t got any support out there.”

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 about themselves and their illness to enable them to cope day-to-day living in the community.

Mind bosses said even though they recognised the changes were “hard” they said it was “positive news”.

Amanda Hedley, day services transformation manager for Norwich Mind, said: “I understand this is going to be hard for people but it means they have the choice of much more services than before.

“We have worked hard on alternative arrangements for every individual and people now have the opportunity to join in mainstream activities they would not have had access to before.

“These include going to the gym, art classes, cookery, drama workshops and social clubs.

“They have also been supported to attend some activities at the Vauxhall Centre which has kept some of them together and also some will now be supported by Bridges on Magdalen Road.

“This is a national policy and it will be much better for people with mental health problems who will have much greater individual choice.”