Students from Tameside Health & Wellbeing College were “literally singing and cheering” last Wednesday when their campaign to save the college proved successful.
The board of directors at NHS Pennine Care Foundation Trust met to discuss the future of the college, over doubts surrounding its funding. There were four options on the table, ranging from keeping the college’s existing model to closing it down completely in December.
The students attended the board meeting and made an impassioned plea to save the college. As well as collecting 2,460 signatures on a petition, they showed the board a video, with testimonies about the life-saving work that goes on there.
Student Gaynor Hammerton also told the meeting: “I was very depressed, my anxiety was through the roof and my life had no direction. I didn’t have a clue where or who I was.
“The first course I enrolled on was ‘Cool It’, which helped me with my anger. I was made to feel welcome and at ease. Because of the support of the staff and the students, I stayed and completed the course.
“The top and bottom is the college is my family, where I feel safe and relaxed. Without the staff and students I would still be at rock bottom and my life would have no direction.”
The student’s powers of persuasion worked, with the board voting 10-2 in favour of ‘option three’. That means the facility in Ashton will be retained, with courses delivered through an integrated approach with the Community Mental Health Teams. The Trust also wants the college to have a presence in Glossop.
The news was sweet relief for students, who’d expressed real fears that the college would close, undoing all the hard work they’d carried out on their own, and others’, mental health.
The college has been running for just over three years for adults with mental health needs in Tameside, Glossop, Oldham, Stockport, Rochdale and Bury.
A mixed team of staff, peer support workers and volunteers deliver a wide range of educational and wellbeing courses to around 800 students a year. These courses include coping with change, drug and alcohol awareness, healthy relationships and living with pain.
Claire Molloy, chief executive of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “After carefully considering a number of options we have agreed to the development of our health and wellbeing college, so that the positive work of the college can continue.
“The college base in Ashton will remain, alongside an enhanced offer through community mental health teams in local boroughs. We also plan to develop peer mentors through the college, as well as support people with lived experience into employment opportunities.
“This development supports our future strategy and we will therefore underwrite the funding whilst we continue to explore sources of funding.”
For more information on Tameside Health and Wellbeing College, visit hwcollege.penninecare.nhs.uk.