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"The Stonebridge Centre"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Adult Mental Health Services - Community (City)

(as a service user),

Hi I’m A Catherine Wheel and I access my Nottingham City East local mental health services at The Stonebridge Centre. Stonebridge is what my post is all about.

If you go down to the Stonebridge Centre today, you’re in for a big surprise. It’s just re-opened after our co-produced refurbishment, and now you’ll hardly believe your eyes. It’s as evidence-based as a picnic under Milkwood.

For starters the outdoor areas are litter-free; now gone the tall wire perimeter fences. The green bits are tidy, all window shutters are open, and someone’s put a bench out. You can see the signs noting the Trust being positive about mental health, quite clearly now the wire’s gone.

Everyone can walk right in. No deserving/undeserving questions asked. No staff/people divide by entitlement to the locked door codes. And this is carried through along all those formerly locked away inside corridors. It’s a proper free for all now. 

A bit in, there’s a creative space with a repurposed table and chairs, mags and books shelf, little boxes full of ticky tacky to explore, imagine, create with, so everything looks the same and nothing like it. There’s other chairs etc too, for reading, reflecting, relaxing, and to be.

Near by there’s a viewing area for the telly, with separate, soft, comfy chairs plus other seating for people who can’t do comfy. People decide what to watch and operate the telly themselves, like grown-ups do.

Next there’s a table of help yourself refreshments. There’s access to several toilets, not our usual only one. No more having to dash to the gp practice up the road where you can walk in, and use theirs, without challenge, deviation or hesitation. 

The What’s the Buzz corner’s got updates from the Trust, and our co-produced “tipping points” facts, ideas, things to try sheets on such a wide range of topics. For example one about highs and lows, hearing voices, another on depression, others like - on being a thoughtful elder, anxiety, stress, a good night’s sleep. I saw the one I helped with about coming off Seroxat.. They’ve got leaflets on what principles the Services are based on. Explanations about policies and practices, what you can access from here, and how to keep in the know, and meet other service users in the same boat as you. There was info from all sorts of organisations, and about places with things to do, info about things for all our diversities, interests, and pockets. And the whole lot dated, and where it came from so no one would go away with old stuff or no leads. Yes, even all the above in a variety of presentations: pictures, song, dance, soundings , sightings, signings, hearings, ranges of colours, languages, all sorts of ways to take the message home.

There was also our adds board for passing it on….like our skills in digital stuff, and how we can help each other with all kinds of things respectfully and safely.

I noticed adds for us about getting together to co-make a zine, and an audio-visual. Adds to have co-realised discussions, to co-make ways to share our thoughts, findings, about what it’s like, and our collective, shared vision, shared hope, shared dream of ways to be. All our difference, all coming together with the threads that hold us in common humanities, and personhoods.

Oh yes, I thought you might like to know the Reception staff have all been on a pamper weekend with workshops on being nice, not grumpy. They had a ball by all accounts. All’s well with the world of reception now. Like us, they just needed someone to be kind to them too.

I looked around, at it all. And it made me feel like I’m part of all this. That together we are stronger, solider, warmer. We’re connected, interrelated, and interdependent. We did this together, thought it through, got on with it, and now we’re maintaining it together and taking it forward. Others will join in and take it over. Pass it on. All of us co-producers.

And I remembered how we asked around for the tables and the chairs and all the stuff. The times all of us got together to make everything nice. I thought of how talented and limited people are, of hidden depths, stirrings, and undercurrents. 

And I couldn’t help myself, I smiled big time, remembering how I was given the sledge hammer to bash that intercom outside the front door, which locked the staff in, and locked us lot out, baring us lot’s entry to Stonebridge. And I revisited my proud moment when I smashed that locked door policy to smithereens, and caught a fleeting glimpse of Duncan Macmillan, smiling, as the doors of the Asylum unlocked again. 

Not quite sure how to end this post. Might have to break the second rule of writing. This is: when you’ve finished a hopey, dreamy, wishy, wayward piece, you must never,  end with:

and then I woke up

(In my case as A Catherine Wheel, in the Certain Ages, with nothing to lose and everything to gain).

Looks like it’s curtains for me.

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