1.4 A community resource centre in action
It is clear that the well-being of communities and the well-being of the individuals within them are intrinsically linked. The Orchard Centre is a community resource centre for people with mental health problems in Bonnyrigg in Midlothian, Scotland.
Bonnyrigg is the second largest town in Midlothian and it has a population of approximately 14,500.
You can a see a list of the aims of the Orchard Centre in the box below.
The Orchard Centre aims to:
Provide support for those with enduring mental health problems.
Provide a secure, stimulating environment in which people can feel safe.
Provide a preventative, holistic service which helps people to meet their emotional, social, physical and spiritual needs.
Provide a range of creative and supportive services on an individual, group and community basis to assist people to meet their needs.
Provide a flexible and easily accessed service which is responsive and readily available.
Offer the opportunity to rebuild skills adversely affected by mental health problems.
Support people to live as normal a life as possible.
Promote positive mental health both within the centre and the wider community through education, participation, social interaction, inclusion and empowerment.
Offer respite and support to families and carers.
Contribute to the prevention of hospital admission.
As you can see from this information, the Orchard Centre explicitly aims to operate beyond the boundaries of the building itself in order to promote positive mental health in the surrounding communities.
Activity 4: Introducing the work of the Orchard Centre
Listen to the audio clip below, where Joan, project manager of the Orchard Centre and a qualified social worker, talks about the work of the centre and the values that underpin it. While you listen to the audio, make notes on the following questions. Use the pause button to stop the recording when you need to in order that you will have the necessary time to do this. You might find it helpful to listen to the recording through once before playing it again and making notes:
How do people get referred to the Orchard Centre?
What is one of the main anxieties for those who use the Orchard Centre?
You explored two ‘models’ of explanation for mental health in Section 1.3. Which of these models does the philosophy of the Orchard Centre most closely reflect, and why?
How does Joan explain the stigma that is sometimes associated with the Orchard Centre and its work?
Click play to listen to audio clip (6 minutes).
Transcript: Track One - Joan
So far, you have only read and heard about the aims of the Orchard Centre ‘in theory’ or from staff who work there. But what about the people who actually use the service? What do they think? In the next activity you will hear about how service users from the centre experience the work that goes on there, and what their views are on a range of issues.
Activity 5: The Orchard Centre: service user perspectives
Listen to the audio clips below, in which Loui, David, Linda and Willie discuss their experiences as users of the Orchard Centre. As in the last activity, try listening to the audio twice, the second time using the pause button to give you extra time to make notes as you listen.
There are five main topics discussed in the audio. To begin with, the four participants discuss their first impressions of the centre and the kinds of volunteer work they have become involved in. They then discuss how they feel the wider community in Bonnyrigg perceives the centre. Loui, David, Linda and Willie then discuss what is meant by a ‘crisis’ in mental health and what they think of crisis services. Following this, they talk about their experiences of the health professionals they have come into contact with, and how the Orchard Centre compares with being in hospital. Finally, there is a brief discussion about advocacy and the importance of having someone to speak up for you.
Click play to listen to audio clip (Part 1, 13 minutes).
Transcript: Track Two - Orchard Centre - Part One
Click play to listen to audio clip (Part 2, 14 minutes).
Transcript: Track Two - Orchard Centre - Part Two
Once you have listened to the audio and made some notes, complete the following activity.
Look again at the aims of the Orchard Centre listed at the beginning of this section. Based on what you have heard from Loui, David, Linda and Willie, to what extent do you think the centre is meeting these aims? The best way of approaching this activity would be to take each of the aims of the centre in turn and provide an example from the audio to show how it is being met.
You may have found the evidence on the audio was clearer for some of the aims than others. In any event, it should have become clear even from this brief insight into the experiences of those attending the Orchard Centre that it is meeting its aims to a very great extent.
In some ways, the work of the Orchard Centre can be seen as a form of community work. This is because one of its aims is to ‘promote positive mental health both within the centre and the wider community through education, participation, social interaction, inclusion and empowerment’. We turn now to one of the key concepts within this aim, and that is the concept of ‘empowerment’. You will be exploring this concept alongside advocacy, which is a key social work skill.