Tyneside and Northumberland Mind

“We’re always here to listen”

Lisa Taylor from Tyneside and Northumberland Mind explains how the charity supports those on their journey to better mental health

“There are still so many people afraid of being judged as having mental health issues as it still carries a stigma”

“We get fabulous feedback from people, many of whom say that the group gives them something to look forward to, and a reason to go out”


“For 12 years now, I’ve been working at Mind, and for me, the beauty of my role is that I get to see first-hand the huge difference that our projects make to people’s lives. We see people who are too nervous to walk through the door without the support of a worker or feel unable to speak in front of other people grow confident enough in themselves and their own abilities to become a volunteer or set up their own peer support group. This is incredibly rewarding.”

As the Wellbeing and Resilience project coordinator for the last two of those years, Lisa now manages the Safe Space programme, a project being financed during 2019 by money raised in The Big Give Christmas Challenge. “This will enable us to widen our support network and promote our service through marketing and advertising throughout the local area,” explains Lisa.

“Funding for mental health has been reduced in the UK and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to help to pay for this type of initiative. The Safe Space programme offers a drop-in service for anyone over 18 years old who suffers from mental illness, providing them with an alternative to isolation with well-being activities and peer support. It’s a positive step for anyone who really wants to make a change to how they are feeling, with support throughout.

“Our head office is the Wellbeing Centre in Gateshead but we also deliver additional groups by hiring rooms in the areas where they are most needed. Each group has two paid workers and up to two volunteers to ensure the programme is delivered effectively. The majority of people we see are men between the ages of 35 and 65, which people are often surprised about, assuming men find it difficult to talk about themselves and their feelings. But I have seen many men transform during their time with us. Often, it’s the first time they’ve spoken about what they’re going through and once they begin, it’s like a weight has lifted – and the courage they’ve taken to come in becomes the first step on their path to recovery.

People come to us in a variety of ways: through self-referral after they have seen our social media or website information, via referrals from GPs, other mental health services and the job centre. We regularly see people from the Hexham area – it’s very quiet and rural and many of our participants have feelings of loneliness and isolation; some may not see another person from one week to the next. The opposite end of the spectrum is a group we run in Newcastle city centre, where we see people who find it hard to mix or admit they are struggling. There are still so many people afraid of being judged as having mental health issues as it still carries a stigma. A number of people who come to us have accessed other time-limited services which have ended and they are looking for extra support and guidance. For example, a person may have had six sessions of counselling and feel they have come a long way but are not quite where they would like to be mentally and emotionally. We also see people who are on waiting lists for other services and may need some help in the interim. We chose the name Safe Space because we provide a safe environment for people to speak honestly about their feelings and state of mind without being judged in any way. People worry about confiding in family and friends because they don’t want to be seen as a burden or are afraid that they will be misunderstood. We are proud of the fact that our support isn’t time-sensitive, which means that even though people are moving forward, they can come along for as long as they need to.

“Groups run on a weekly basis and once people are feeling able to move on, they can attend peer-led groups, in which no staff are involved. It’s wonderful to see members develop friendships and go on to help each other.

“We also hold one-to-one sessions geared towards those who are initially daunted by joining a group, often the case with younger people. Before they come along, our staff can reassure them by text, email or telephone or they can pop in for a chat to prepare themselves to attend a session.

“We find the majority of people prefer to share their experiences within a group, perhaps because it’s important for people to realise there are others struggling and dealing with the same issues. It’s also true that those who have been coming to sessions longer will naturally help the newer members, which is a positive experience for both participants. During the sessions, there is a good mix of facilitated group discussions, workshops and physical activities. There may be a mindfulness session, a physical activity such as bowling or an arts project with a local council volunteers group – all social and fun things where people join in to enjoy themselves with the goal of helping them to find new ways in which to cope.

“We get fabulous feedback from people, many of whom say that the group gives them something to look forward to, and a reason to go out. They also provide a real boost to confidence after socialising and chatting with others. In the near future, we are looking to develop more peer groups for participants to go on to run themselves. These types of groups enable people to maintain a sense of control over their symptoms and provide the tools to develop good coping mechanisms in their journey to recovery, no matter how long it may take.”


Helping those affected by a mental health issue


Money raised in The Candis Big Give will be used to fund the charity’s Safe Space programme to deliver a tailored programme of peer and professional support, including one-to-one counselling. Designed to help participants to gain new skills and knowledge of how to cope and improve their mental health, the programme offers the opportunity to increase social networks, make friends and improve confidence and self-esteem.

The four steps to help people to improve their mental health are Register (make contact with Mind), Meet (meet an Empowerment worker to discuss your needs), Plan (where Mind offers help to reach your goals with manageable steps) and Change (where Mind supports you to make positive changes in your life).


3 facts:

One in four people has a mental health issue ranging from disorders, OCD, bipolar and communication issues to being alone with no support network


40% of all UK GP appointments are linked to an associated mental health disorder


The charity’s Wellbeing projects have four themes: support, emotional resilience, skills development and lifestyle


[pic – walkers in blue t-shirts – a fundraising walk organised by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind]


Make a difference



What it does: Works with healthcare professionals to share knowledge and support those with diabetes.

Candis Big Give project: To fund research to prevent Type 1 diabetes.

Location: National

Total raised: £13,481



What it does: Provides support to kidney patients to improve health and care.

Candis Big Give project: To fund unique activity breaks for patients aged 9-30.

Location: National

Total raised: £8,924



What it does: Helps people with learning disabilities to live independently and achieve their ambitions.

Candis Big Give project: To encourage women at risk of being overweight to improve their health and well-being.

Location: London

Total raised: £16,875



What it does: Supports adults with learning disabilities into paid work and independence.

Candis Big Give project: To provide job coaching to ten adults and a holiday club for 30 children.

Location: Sussex

Total raised: £3,499



What it does: Provides free recreation camps for children and families affected by serious illnesses.

Candis Big Give project: To run three sibling camps across the UK in 2019.

Location: National

Total raised: £22,606



What it does: Provides an air ambulance service to the Wiltshire area and nearby.

Candis Big Give project: Money raised will go towards a SIMBODIES clinical simulation system to help to save more lives.

Location: Wiltshire

Total raised: £27,210

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