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Mersey Care saves historic Carnegie building with unveiling of 'Life Rooms Walton'

Mersey Care NHS Trust have saved the historic Carnegie building at the former Walton Library and transformed it into the state-of-the-art ‘Life Rooms Walton’, a new centre for learning, recovery, health and wellbeing.  Find out more: www.liferooms.org

 

The stunning new centre has retained the historic exterior while the interior has been extensively refurbished into a state-of-the-art centre which will revolutionise the way people recover from and manage their mental health. It will also serve the wider community of Walton with a variety of new and exciting services that challenges stigma and promotes positive mental health and wellbeing.

 

Leading mental health trust Mersey Care have also retained some of the popular library services for the local community at the much-loved building on Evered Avenue, off Rice Lane, Walton, which was opened in 1911, with the £8,000 cost being paid by Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

 

The building has become available as part of Liverpool City Council’s reduction in library services and Michael Crilly, Mersey Care’s Director of Social Inclusion and Participation, said: “People have been scared they’d lose their library so it’s good to be able to reassure them that some of those services will be retained, including an electronic ordering service for books that are not in stock.”

 

Among the new services provided for the community, service users and carers at the Life Rooms are:

 

  • An employment and enterprise hub to help Mersey Care service users get back to work, through volunteering opportunities and further education
  • Literacy, numeracy and IT skills provided for service users in a safe environment
  • Service users and carers will be able to get information about physical and mental wellbeing, advice on money, housing and community services
  • A library for learning and health and wellbeing
  • A children’s library area
  • Mersey Care Recovery College classrooms for people who want to come our wide range of courses and workshops (http://www.merseycare.nhs.uk/are-you-a-carer/what-is-recovery/mersey-care-recovery-college/)
  • Meeting spaces for community groups
  • A free IT suite for everyone to use
  • Interview areas for private one-to-one conversations enabling confidential support
  • A café run by a local social enterprise
  • An open area usable for art exhibitions and cultural activities for local groups.

 

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The Life Rooms will continue to be used by the local residents’ association and historical society, and Joe Rafferty, Mersey Care’s Chief Executive, said: “The Life Rooms Walton is an important step in supporting our service users and extending our links into the community.

 

“Managing mental wellbeing should feel like a normal part of life and a way of doing things and while many of the facilities provided at the Life Rooms concentrate on service users, they are also about it being a place to seek advice and support on coping better and having a better life.

 

“The focus on employment is particularly important because it helps people feel valued and gives them a greater freedom of choice with their lives.”

 

The sympathetic restoration is in line with Mersey Care’s attempts to provide a therapeutic environment for everyone who uses the Life Rooms, whether they are attending the Recovery College’s courses or members of the local community using the facilities.

 

“No matter whether you’re facing challenges or a local resident using the library, it’s crucial to have somewhere where you feel valued, so when you step through the door, there’s a sense of welcome, a feeling that reminds you that you matter. We want it to be a happy building that people want to visit, where they look forward to coming back,” added Mr Crilly.

 

“Andrew Carnegie had a strong belief that beautiful buildings lift people’s spirits, providing hope and a horizon of learning on which to move forward in life and we believe we have been true to that vision.

 

“An incredible amount of thought has gone into preserving the historic features and public services offered from this building. We believe we have enhanced what was already a place of beauty and saved it for future generations.”

The Life Rooms will open to the public on 9 May, 2016 and open from 9.30am to 4.30p, from Monday to Friday with library services commencing from 16 May.