The ‘hidden gem’ of Lincoln providing mental health care and £3 dinners

The manager of a well-being centre in Lincoln believes mental health problems are getting worse in the city, but wants people to become more aware of the service as they attempt to tackle the issue.

[email protected], which is located on Mint Lane, offers a range of services to help preserve or improve people’s well-being and is largely centred around mental health.

It also boasts a cafe which serves a buffet of surplus food from local businesses, run by caring volunteers.

After it closed as a day centre for the NHS in 2011 current Centre Manager Charles Cooke took over its management for a trial period before it opened as [email protected] in 2012.

A charity called Community Assets Plus, of whom Charles is one of six trustees, took over the centre and cafe, which need £30,000 a year to keep running.

This room is for chilling space for people to gather their thoughts and is dedicated to one of the founders of the centre Andrew Harrison, who passed away. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

It is currently funded by grants including Awards for All from the lottery (£10k each to the centre and cafe), the cafe takings, charitable funding, donations, and the Tesco Bags for Help scheme (£4k this year) and other avenues.

Over five years the Bromhead Medical Charity has provided £56k of funding and the Mental Health Promotion Fund is renewable annually with £10k this year to the centre and £7k to the cafe.

However, many of the funding options are short-term so the centre faces a battle to keep going.

One of the meeting rooms at the centre. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Charles told The Lincolnite that the pressure on the NHS to deal with hospital deficit makes things difficult and there is not enough understanding of how services like [email protected] can reduce this demand and help with this issue.

He said: “Mental health problems are getting worse in Lincoln. Although we prove over and over the value this place has on reducing the demand on NHS and social care, it is hard to get funding.

“Our funders have been fantastic, but are short term so it is a continuous battle to stay financially stable and keep the service going.

“People need to know it’s here more and be aware of us. On a case by case basis the service is excellent and there is one guy, for example, who comes several times a week and if he wasn’t coming here he would be in hospital or acute services, or possibly with police. Coming here has made a difference to him.

“There is a lot of determination and good will from people who have put a lot of tome and effort in to keep this going.”

Centre users look after the garden. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

In the garden of the centre. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Renew

The biggest peer support group at the centre is called Renew and is an open membership group for people who are enduring mental health problems and offers a daily drop-in service for its members.

Kim East has been a member since the beginning for over 30 years, back when it was run as a previous NHS day centre (1986-2000).

Kim said: “The service is fantastic and I live and breathe the place here every day. It is very valuable and there should be more places like this. We don’t get judged and we can all share things.”

Centre users can decorate the walls of the Renew meeting room as they wish. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Centre manager Charles Cooke and long-serving Renew member Kim East. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Renew member Aidan Turner. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincoln Trauma Centre

Lincoln Trauma Centre opened in 2017 and is based upstairs in the same building and has grown to become a more extensive service with three rooms.

It saw 200 clients in its first year and is well on target for this year already as it helps people with a range of subjects including domestic abuse and bereavement.

It is funded by the National Lottery Fund, Bromhead Medical Charity, Tesco Bags For Help and the Mental Health Promotion Fund, with a total of around £40,000.

Appointments can be booked here and people can donate to the service or offer to volunteer by calling 07812 661348.

Lincoln Trauma Centre is located upstairs at [email protected] on Mint Lane. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Psychotherapists and directors at Lincoln Trauma Centre Michelle Freeman and Andrea Stott. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Mint Lane Cafe

Mint Lane Cafe uses surplus food from local stores and FareShare, an organisation who collect food from supermarkets.

It closed for a week last month and reopened last week after restructuring so that it is more like self service where people can eat as much or as little as they want from a buffet spread created by surplus food from local sources and prepared by volunteers.

[email protected] centre manager Charles Cooke and Mint Lane Cafe manager Angeletia Padmore-Clarke. Photo Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Chef Obondi from the Hilton in London helped out during the re-opening week after it was painted by volunteers and donations of furniture were made.

Hot meals, including starter, main and desert, are available for £3 and Cafe Manager Angeletia Padmore-Clarke said: “It is going well and it has potential to do much better. It is a hidden gem of Lincoln and we need more people to know where we are.”

The cafe needs more volunteers so anyone interested can contact the cafe via its Facebook page or website.

Mint Lane Cafe. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite