Waddington Street Centre
Waddington Street Centre
A Community Mental Health Resource

For the last 15 of our 34 year life span we have been committed to the development and delivery of learning based activities. It is our belief that structured, educational and purposeful activities can and do enable people to make positive changes. When people are initially referred to us by their social worker or community nurse they are usually quite withdrawn and socially isolated.

People often report feelings of intense loneliness and helplessness. For many their health has hindered any aspirations they may have had. They may be unable to work and feel that their role and sense of purpose is lost. The longer people remain unoccupied the greater the risk of problems becoming exacerbated. Waddington Street Centre supports people by looking at the individual needs of every person, what their interests are, what they need help with, and, how they will achieve the objectives they have identified.

In the beginning some people are nervous about engaging with learning based activity. This is often due to a number of factors including:

  • poor experience of school
  • problems with short term memory and concentration (often associated with their illness or medication)
  • low self worth and
  • anxiety around large group sizes

At Waddington Street Centre we are committed to listening to service user views and have incrementally adapted our education programme to benefit our learners, as opposed to a more traditional learner in a mainstream environment. Many of our service users have tried to access local further education colleges but have found them to be non-conducive to their needs. In more recent years there has been even less provision for adult learners particularly outside of work focused programmes. This in itself is a huge barrier particularly in terms of progression.

Although training for employment is essential many of our service users are nowhere near ready for this step. Our educational activities aim to develop the softer skills associated with learning. Our learners are able to gain better communication skills (listening and verbalising), increased confidence and self respect, routine and structure in their week, learning new skills and information which they can share and give back to their friends, family and community. Taking part in such activities also encourages cognitive function, helping people ultimately to be able to think and process information more effectively. We believe that what we do well is to fill a much needed gap in the provision of adult education, particularly for people who feel excluded because of their health needs. We believe that participation keeps people well and out of hospital beds. Our socially modelled provision aims to complement clinical treatments which people often find too narrow. Waddington Street Centre turns people from passive recipients of medication into active members of their community.

Over the last few years we have opened up our provision to other community organisations who work with people who also have mental health issues. We have a number of close partnerships including Lanchester Road Hospital (the local psychiatric hospital for North Durham), Primrose Lodge (a mental health rehabilitation centre) and a number of local voluntary sector organisations that help vulnerable and homeless people. These people also face barriers to mainstream education so we have set up an inter-organisational referral system.

Our organisation has also been working hard over the last few years to develop a referral route for GP's. We believe that our courses could be offered as a short term social prescribing intervention for those with low levels of anxiety and depression.

We are fortunate enough to have the support of New College Durham who has included Waddington Street within their Community Education provision. We currently offer 15 courses at our centre, delivered by New College staff. This is an excellent provision and forms the core of our learning based activity.

We have also received funding from a variety of sources which allows us to diversify our education provision. After consultation with our service users we discovered that people wanted to continue with learning based activities outside of normal term times. This funding has enabled us to provide additional subjects in term time as well as over the summer period (June - September) we can also keep group sizes small (6-8) which is more comfortable for our vulnerable learners.

In 2014 Waddington Street Centre started to provide open access courses at a weekend funded through social prescribing initiative 'Colour your Life'. This was in response to service users requests for 'out of hours' courses. The funding is time limited but we do hope to continue with the courses once the as in a relatively short period of time they have proved popular and have enabled us to stretch our service provision.   

Waddington Street Centre is a partner organisation in the delivery of 'Colour your Life', a project that runs throughout County Durham.

Service users have suggested subject areas they would be interested in. Their passion and proactive involvement in the design and continuation of learning based activity is evidence of validity and need.

As an organisation we believe that we offer invaluable support and a tailored education service to some of County Durham's most vulnerable people. In doing so learners actually tell us that it has made a huge difference to them:

"I want to beat this illness and I'm not going to do it without education"

"I feel happy more than once week"

"For the two hours I do my course I'm not worrying about my other problems"

"If you can't cope, you are supported to get back on your feet. I feel less of a failure"

"I would just like to say that the support, friendship and guidance is lovely"

In developing its partnerships the Centre has been able to provide a service that is acknowledged as being a beacon within the county in mental health/education service provision.

The work of the Centre has developed over the years and has been guided by local and national developments in mental health practice. However, and most importantly, the Centre's programme of services is shaped by what service users find helpful and enjoyable, and what works for them.

Our support work and services are based on creating a hopeful approach, raising motivation and focusing on strengths and possibilities. The Centre is a lifeline to many, helping people to stay out of hospital and live. We believe in what we do - and we want to do more.

Ali Lee, WSC Resource Organiser and Deputy Manager

For current activities click here

The Centre offers the opportunity for people who use Mental Health Services in Co Durham to enjoy a quick break in our caravan ... read more
Evening Activities
Waddington Street Centre's Evening Activities ... read more
Latest News
Course Timetable for Autumn 2017 Term now available
The Autumn Term at Waddington Street starts on 18th September
August Issue of The Street now available
The new issue of The Street is now available
June Issue of The Street available
The new issue of The Street is now available
Calling men of all ages.
Room Hire at Waddington Street Centre
Rooms at Waddington Street Centre are available to Hire
view all news
Latest Events
Poetry Jam
Poetry Jam will take place on 5th October 2017
WSC Music Night
The next music night will be held on 25th September
view all events