Award-winning Wirral charity Open Door, along with partners from the NHS and third sector, have secured nearly £4m in Town Deal funding to transform the Treasury Annexe building in Birkenhead to a new hub that will use art and culture to support people with mental health issues.
Joy Project will open in spring 2025 and will also include an art gallery, outdoor play area, a performance space and café.
Lee Pennington, Founder of Open Door, said, “Art and culture can give people a sense of community which can alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“It gives people the opportunity to talk about their emotions in a way they may not have been able to before and act as the galvaniser of improved self-esteem and wellbeing. Joy will have a positive influence on so many people’s lives.”
“The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course at Open Door is the reason I’m smiling and enjoying life.
“The course has given me a new sense of hope. Of course there are still bad days, but with my distraction techniques I know I can just turn up the music, dance like a dad at a wedding, forget about the world to enjoy the moment.
“Thank you for giving me my life back, relatively free of the anxiety-ridden shackles.”
It is believed the scheme could save the NHS more than £4,000 per person, every year.
Joy Project is just one of a series of Town Deal projects taking place in Birkenhead after Wirral Council received £25 million from the Government. Other projects include the Transport Shed, Start Yard, The Waterfront Animation & Connectivity Project, Education Engagement Network, Egerton House, Future Yard, Sustainability Central and The Argyle Street Creative Hub.
Cllr Tony Jones, Chair of Economy, Regeneration and Housing at Wirral Council, said, “This is an incredibly exciting project that demonstrates what can happen when collaboration and innovation come together. Art and music play such a big role in so many people’s lives, so using them to bring people together will undoubtedly help improve mental wellbeing.”
“My mentor made me feel so comfortable and like I had someone who really cared and wanted to listen.
“At the end of the Bazaar programme, I honestly felt like I had overcome so much. I had the tools to deal with those bad days and I noticed the bad days becoming less and less.
“On my last session, I wrote a letter to myself, I still have this letter on my phone and it’s something I always go back to if I’m ever feeling anxious or down. It helps me to realise how far I have come.”
Open Door provides free therapeutic support and a range of creative programmes to people aged 17-35 who are feeling depressed, anxious or having panic attacks. In the last 12 months the charity, which first opened its doors in Liscard in 2011, have supported 1,052 Wirral people. They are now based in Bloom Building in Birkenhead, a candidate for Merseyside’s most colourful building, along with their other site Luft.
If you or anyone you know would like to receive mental health support, visit opendoorcharity.com