The Dundas Shopping Centre in the heart of Middlesbrough town centre is the Live Well Centre, a one-stop shop for healthy living run by the council’s public health team.
The Dundas Shopping Centre in the heart of Middlesbrough town centre is home to a host of different retailers from clothes shops to beauty therapists and eateries.
Nestled alongside them is the Live Well Centre, a one-stop shop for healthy living run by the council’s public health team.
The integrated offer over five floors
The centre was launched in 2017 and has gradually been expanded to include a wide range of services from smoking cessation and substance misuse to an exercise-on-referral service and sexual health clinic.
The centre now occupies five floors in the Dundas Shopping Centre with a sixth floor opening up later this year. It is open six days a week with late opening until 8pm some evenings. There is a gym and a range of meeting and conference facilities, which the centre hires out to raise money.
Alongside the 12 core public health services, the Live Well Centre also hosts NHS clinics and works with a range of different partners, including Groundwork, which provides employability and skills support and Impact on Teeside/Mind, a mental health charity.
The NHS services include a pre- and post-op support service that is aimed at helping patients prepare and recover from surgery. Ester Carr, from South Tees Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs that service, said the support provided by the Live Well Centre team has been vital.
They're a fabulous team. Nothing is ever too much trouble for anyone. It is a really unique service that provides great benefit to patients.
‘We get people dropping in all the time’
Council Strategic Asset and Business Development Manager, Kerry Melling, said having a wide-range of services under one roof in an area where people go had made a “huge difference”.
“We get people dropping in all the time. They are met at reception and can have a consultation with a wellbeing motivator who will discuss with them what support they need and what barriers they may face. We also get GPs and others referring in.
And the great thing is having all these services means that we do not have to send people away to different services. Most people can get the help they need at the centre.
In the first year it was launched more than 60,000 people used the centre and by the time the pandemic hit that number had doubled. COVID meant the centre has to restrict access to only core essential services, like sexual health, but services are now returning to normal.
“We have just about got everything running again,” said Ms Melling.
I think the support we can provide will be more important than ever as we go forward now.
Support has been a ‘life-saver’
In fact, the centre has already launched a long-COVID rehabilitation scheme called Re-start. It provides a 12-week programme of exercises and support designed to help those with symptoms.
One of those who has been helped is Ian Davison. The primary school teacher caught the virus and six months later was still in pain, exhausted and struggling to breathe. He did not leave the house and was unable to do day-to-days tasks like shopping.
He enrolled on the Re-start programme and within weeks was in the gym and following a tailored programme of exercises and receiving help from a physio to overcome his symptoms.
He returned to work in autumn. “The support has literally been a life-saver. I can’t say good enough things about it. Before I started the programme, I felt alone. You begin to think you're never going to get better.
But the team at the Live Well Centre know how to help, they push you when they think you need to be pushed but they also understand when you've done enough, and provide encouragement.
South Tees Joint Director of Public Health, Mark Adams, is full of praise for the centre.
It is a really special place, supporting people to improve their wellbeing by working with them and all their issues and opportunities, rather than looking from a single service-specific perspective.
“The staff have worked hard with partner agencies to build a culture of support and mutual understanding of all the service offers and how they could fit together to offer the best help, advice and support possible.”
Strategic Asset and Business Development Manager