NT LIFE launches September 2023 prospectus

Lighthouse, angel of the north paintingNT LIFE, the Recovery College for North Tyneside, has launched their new prospectus for September 2023, for sessions beginning week commencing on 4th September and again on 23rd October.

Courses include their Get2Gether drop-in, vegetarian cooking, DBT skills, creative writing, dance, art, book club, photography, emotional regulation toolkit a neurodivergent support group and more. You can view all of their upcoming sessions in the prospectus.

Booking is essential. To get involved, you must first complete the expression of interest form here. The team will contact you and arrange an informal chat and then if you are keen to get involved, they will get you enrolled as a student of NT LIFE and choose the activities or courses you would like to get involved with.

NT LIFE: Helping people learn positive new ways to deal with life’s stresses, understand themselves better and find purpose.


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Exciting start to NT LIFE Recovery College’s fifth year of deliveries

Jess Shaw smilingAs September 2023 approaches, we recognise the growth we have made since our inception in 2019, with only one staff member employed for 3 days/week; NT LIFE has developed and is now proud to welcome a fourth person to the staff team, Jess Shaw.
Congratulations Jess, we are excited to see the progress you will make with us, not least your involvement in our new Neurodivergence Support Group and also in the development of a monthly newsletter. If you would like to contribute anything mental health and wellbeing related to this newsletter please email: [email protected].
Jess who has volunteered at for NT LIFE for 3 years and was previously a Young persons Co-Production worker at VODA’s Discover Me project, transferred to NT LIFE at the beginning of August. Our staff team is now four strong: 2 full time and 2 part-time workers.
Julie BishopWe would also like to acknowledge Julie Bishop in completing her first full year as a paid worker at NT LIFE. Julie has made a huge impact with DBT Skills training, so much so that we have had to create an additional time slot to accommodate the growth in enquiries. She has also used her OCD lived experience to enhance and organise our enrolment and booking system, and developed the Get 2 Gether group, which means time from enquiry to attendance has been drastically shortened to as little as 10 days. We know from feedback that with so many services having long waiting lists, this is a welcomed improvement for our participants. A huge thank you to Julie.
With the increased numbers of staff, NT LIFE can now progress to taking our service to the west of the North Tyneside Borough. Our plan is that in January 2024 we can offer a range of mental health and wellbeing courses and support accessible in the Killingworth, Camperdown, Seaton Burn area with several sessions per week. If you know of anyone is this area that would like to attend a steering group to determine the logistics of this i.e. venue, days, times, topics of interest etc please email [email protected].
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Howay the Lads!

Howay the Lads!

Would you like to co-design and co-create a Men’s Mental Health Group or simply be involved?

Men’s mental health is an important yet often overlooked health concern


“Both men and women experience mental health difficulties. However there are some notable differences between the issues affecting them and the factors that influence those issues”

Research demonstrates men are less likely to seek treatment.

Attending a support group can be helpful

Recently NT LIFE has noticed a significant increase in the number of men accessing our courses. In response to this and in recognition of the difference in experience, we want to co-design and co-create a Men’s Group. As with all of our courses we recognise that lived experience has immeasurable value and we would like the people who would attend to lead and influence the development of this group.

We are seeking men over 18yrs living in North Tyneside, irrespective of diagnosis, but who have a desire to improve their mental health to join us.

We are offering 3 dates for men to attend:

  • Monday 31st July 5pm – 7pm
  • Tuesday 8th August 10am – 12noon
  • Wednesday 16th August 1pm – 3pm

For accessibility you do not have to be enrolled to attend these sessions, simply have an interest and be prepared to share your views. To register for 1 or all of the sessions simply email [email protected] before 28th July with your choice of dates.

Venue will be NT LIFE, The Flat, Meadow Well Connected, Waterville Rd, North Shields NE29 6BA

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International Men’s Health Awareness Week 12-19 June

It is great to see that recent mental health campaigns have promoted the reasons and benefits for seeking support, to men. It is estimated that 1 in 8 men in England will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives. In the North East of England we have the highest rates of men’s suicide in the UK. (figures from ons.gov.uk)

At NT LIFE we are uplifted to have observed a steady growth in the number of men attending, (25% of our participants in the last quarter identified as male). I say uplifted as this demonstrates an improvement around the previous and often stigmatising attitudes that deterred men from seeking support for their mental health, instead of having to “man-up”.

On the back of this NT LIFE wants to set up a Men’s Group, specifically to support the needs of the people who identify as male in our community. We are seeking first to understand the needs and wants of North Tyneside residents over the age of 18yrs who identify as male and want support to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

In keeping with NT LIFE’s ethos, rather than tell men what they need, we are looking to hold a number of engagement meetings with local men who wish to improve their mental health so that we can co-create the group.

We would like to know:
  • what interests you,
  • what you would like to achieve by attending
  • when would be the best times/days for you to attend
  • where would be most accessible to attend
  • how often you would like to attend
  • barriers to attending so we can explore solutions
From there we will aim to meet the requirements of the majority and then start the Men’s Group in earnest in September 2023.
We aim to hold the first of these meetings mid-July, if you or someone you know would be interested in attending, please email – [email protected]. for more information.
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The January Low Down from NT LIFE

NT LIFE having a brewWelcome back And Hello 2023

Well what a start to 2023 we’ve had

We’re exhausted just listing the bullet points of what we have achieved so far this year! Especially in light of 2 of the 3 staff members, having had a bout of Covid, in the middle of this.

The thanks for all we have achieved is shared across the great staff team (Ali, Alice, Julie) our outstanding volunteers ( Mick, Jess, Phil, Vicky, Lisa-Marie, Lorraine, Christine, Erin(PCET Placement), Hannah & Zara (Occupational Therapy Placements) Charlotte (Peer Support Worker) and Mandy (PSW) and of course our amazing participants all 68 of them, so far.

Supported of course by everyone who has recommended us and introduced new participants to us.

Here’s a quick break down of what we have accomplished from Monday 9th January to Friday 3rd February, just 4 short weeks

  • 40 New Expressions of Interest submittedNT LIFE Woodland Group
  • 21 New students enrolled
  • 13 of those are attending courses (there used to be a 6 week delay for most people. Due to changes in our enrolment process, as you can see we have reduced this for the majority of people)
  • 19 have been offered appointments we’re waiting for them to confirm availability
  • 68 Unique Attendees weekly
  • 285 attendances so far (the discrepancy is due to multiple course attendance for some of these people)
  • This equates to 459 hours of engagement in just 15 days of deliveries
  • 16 courses are offered each week
  • And we had 3 brand new taster courses: Therapeutic Drumming from Ali Avery, Tai Chi from Vanessa Collings, and Grow And Eat from our colleague Vicky Bastoudi

Outside of these deliveries we also managed to deliver the following:

  • A 2 hour Sector Connector session for VCSE managers – How to Get The Most Out of Your Team
  • A Self-Care program with NT Carers Centre
  • Arranged and delivered food parcels from The Bay Food Bank and Tesco to a couple of our participants
  • Attended the final presentations of our OT Students: which completed their assignments for the 12 week placement with us.
  • On-boarded our placement PCET Student to begin 100hours of practical delivery to achieve their Teacher Training Certificate
  • Attended Launchpad’s Patient & Survivor Forum at Linskill, was great to see a third of the attendees were previous students of ours. We’ll continue to signpost people to this great group.
  • Ali and Julie are now entering the Strictly Come Dancing finals after covering 2 dance sessions in the absence of our dance instructor

What have our fab students been getting up to?

Well let’s see what these courageous peeps have been doing

  • Phil Scott is now attending the Mad Studies course at Northumbria Uni each week and another has requested to do so
  • Mel performed her Winter Poem at the Norham show, a huge achievement as when Mel first started with us she very rarely spoke, now we can’t shut her up
  • 1 participant has gone and got themselves a job just when we were eyeing them up to volunteer, the cheek of it lol, seriously we are dead proud
  • 2 participant have returned to work after long term sick, diluting the volunteer pool even further
  • 1 participant we’d earmarked as a volunteer has attended an interview to be a Peer Support Worker, if only we had more funding they could have done that for us
  • 1 volunteer has put their name down to attend Recoco for a Peer Support Info session, this is looking like we need more volunteers and pretty sharpish
  • 1 participant is now on a Performing Arts course at Northumbria Uni – do I hear the sound of a future volunteer
  • At least 8 people have put their names forward for the Working Well Together, Community Mental Health Transformation Sessions, in collaboration with Mel Bramley from Health Watch, following sessions done in October and December of last year.

Special Thoughts and thanks must go to our wonderful volunteer art facilitator Mick who is currently absent due to sickness. It was great to see the out pouring of kindness love and support from the art students who all contributed cards, words of kindness and art work to show Mick how much his years of contribution have been appreciated. We look forward to his return.

It is with much sadness that we wave goodbye, farewell, adios amigos to our amazing OT students. In 12 short weeks they came in hit the ground running were open to our unique ways of working and found ways to inject the OT spirit into what we do. We came very close to attaching shackles but thought this may contravene employment law so it is with sadness and pride we allowed them to escape our clutches, but not without a farewell meal with staff. A massive thank you to both Hannah and Zara and wishes for your success in the future

Can I point out that Alice managed to get a little more than the rest of us, as Hannah so kindly puppy sat Freddy this weekend. Demonstrating the true connections we make, OT’s are not just for Christmas!

To find out more about their experience with us you can see the OT reflections here.

Zara’s reflections

Hannah’s reflections

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NT LIFE 12 Days of Christmas

NT LIFE Christmas funHere at NT LIFE, we’re halfway through our ’12 Days of Christmas’ activities and it’s going fab!! We’re having so much fun whilst making new friends and distracting from the stresses that this time of year invariably brings.

We’ve made crafts that Blue Peter would be proud of, have roared with laughter playing silly games with overly competitive people and eaten copious amounts of Ali’s homemade mince pie Christmas trees, cakes and biscuits. In fact, as I type, our Looney Out of Tuners are singing their little hearts
out to ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Daaaa-aaay’.

Christmas Crafts
So far, we’re onto day 7 and have facilitated 12 sessions serving some 86 participants (keeping them off the streets and out of trouble!!) and we are all very excited for our trip to Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick on Thursday. They’ve stolen our ’12 Days of Christmas’ idea for their Christmas theme but we’ll let them off…. this time….

All in all, we’re having a fabulous end to an amazing year with our NT LIFE family and would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our lovely participants, volunteers and staff a wonderfully Christmassy Christmas and the very best of luck for the new year ahead.

We have some amazing new courses coming up next year, from Therapeutic Drumming and Tai Chi to Understanding Depression and WRAP Planning!!

Follow us on Facebook for up-to-date information on courses and www.voda.org.uk/ntlife for our prospectus and expression of interest form.
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12 Days of Christmas from NT LIFE

We know that this year has been a challenging one, coming out of lockdowns, stretched services and the rise in the cost of living. There seems to be challenges at every turn, so we are attempting to address the balance with as much Christmas spirit and positivity as we can.
Due to the fantastic response we’ve had this year, we have had to limit our Christmas offers to individuals who have attended this year, rather than new applicants.  However, the effort from our team to make this an extra special Christmas, reducing isolation and improving outlooks by creating connections and positive memories has been phenomenal.
Most of the activities on offer in December will create items that we intend to gift to people on our waiting list, to remind them that we are here and the opportunity to attend next year is here.
We were so excited to share our upcoming Christmas activities, we decided to put them in in song form – see video below. You can also view the activities in more detail on Facebook and you can view the 12 days of Christmas timetable here. Make sure you watch to the end for the outtakes and a message of thanks. It is really worth watching until the end, it’s just over 5 minutes and a definite lift to the spirits.
And last but by no means least thank you for continuing to support NT LIFE Recovery College and our services. We will have our January timetable available soon.
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NT LIFE Student Survey

This survey was carried out in 2021/22 to give students and volunteers of NT LIFE the opportunity to feed back about their experience.

The survey was undertaken on behalf of NT LIFE by Michele Spencer, Chief Officer, North Tyneside Community and Health Care Forum.

22 people took the time to complete the survey and some of the students were happy to meet  Michele and share their personal journey.

The survey covered the traditional demographic questions as well as courses students attended, how long they waited and most importantly what benefits they had and continue to have from attending.

Conclusion of the survey 
NT LIFE is designed for and run by people who understand how to support, encourage and empower. Students are at the heart of all of the courses and workshops and the design of what is on offer.

It is confidential, inclusive, informal and non-judgemental and this was echoed in many of the responses.

For most people there was a very short waiting time, and this is so important to the students. The impact from enrolment was clear, students felt in a safe place, nurtured and encouraged.

The responses from students reflect what they think of NT LIFE, how it is coordinated, how they feel and what they get out of attending.”…it’s a lifeline”.

Download the full feedback survey here.

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NT LIFE: Taking brave steps with Woodland Wellbeing

Over the last 2 weeks our Woodland Wellbeing participants have been getting stuck into making nettle cordage, a slow and mindful process which involved the participants working together and learning new skills. This process has been extra special for 2 reasons. Firstly, because it’s the first main activity one of our brilliant co-facilitators, Vicky, has led herself. Leading a ‘main’ activity has been one of Vicky & Lisa’s goals for this term, pushing themselves to keep developing their skills and confidence which is a privilege and inspiration to be around 🙂 – and we’re looking forward to Lisa’s turn this week! And secondly, because this group moved from the ‘safe space’ of where they regularly attend – Northumberland Park – to the ‘brave space’ of Rising Sun. By stretching themselves and putting themselves out of familiarity they were rewarded by new sites, exploration, curiosity and stunning views across Tyneside!

Now back to the cordage…

Everyone started off by collecting the nettles (wearing double protective gloves to minimising the risk of stinging!) and then began to process them.

First they stripped the stems of excess leaves and stings, being careful not to damage any of the moth and butterfly eggs we came across (these were returned to the spot we found them from!); next everyone used sticks to roll up and down the nettle stems to flatten them.

Following on from that the participants took great satisfaction and care in separating the tough outside fibres (which we wanted to keep), from the soft inside pith. From here the fibres were hung up to dry ready for the next stage of processing the following week.

When it came to instructing the participants on how to roll the nettle fibres and plait them into cordage, Vicky did an incredible job – making sure the instructions were clear, problem solving when we needed to adapt the method and taking into account how to manage risks and keep the participants safe. Awesome work Vicky!

The following week we had another proud moment for us in Woodland Wellbeing as Lisa took the reins and facilitated her first ‘main’ activity – a goal she’s been gradually building up to since she started co-facilitating last August!

Lisa’s commitment to achieving her goals has been clearly evident – looking back to the very early days she started off by supporting other members of the group and helping them out with the activities as they were in progress and has always had a keen eye for empowering others to learn how to do things for themselves. As her own confidence grew she then took the next step alongside Vicky, of facilitating ice breakers and reflection activities – allowing herself to build her skills and feel more confident.

Since April, Lisa and Vicky have focused their attention on how they wanted to push themselves to the next stage and began working more intensively towards their shared goal of delivering a ‘main’ activity each this cohort.

Lisa’s dedication and hard work absolutely shone through and it was clear she’d practiced over the week how to explain the activity to family members, getting feedback from them as she went. The result was really clear instructions about how to safely whittle elder beads as well as having adaptability – watching videos online of how they suggested to do it, then making improvements based on individual’s need.

I think I’m right in saying that when Lisa & Vicky first started out as volunteers for Woodland Wellbeing, neither of them could imagine themselves facilitating a main part of the session – yet here they are! It’s taken a huge amount of courage, commitment and energy on their parts so incredibly well done to both of you and thank you for inspiring others as role models!

If they can do it, you can to! So if you would like to experience the pride & personal growth that both Lisa & Vicky have, and would like to try out volunteering for NT LIFE, please email [email protected].


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2022 so far…

After a move to Meadow Well Connected at the start of 2022, the team at NT LIFE have been busy.

Delivery of courses started in February, with NT LIFE supporting 55 participants across 16 separate programmes for 6 consecutive weeks benefiting from the support of 10 volunteers and trainee volunteers.

We have collaborated with North Tyneside Carers Centre to provide 10 of their participants with a program designed to improve their awareness and mind-set to undertaking self-care, this has helped us to access the North West of the borough and identify opportunities for further delivery in that area.

As a result we have 6 further session planned for the summer and we are also working in collaboration with Age UK North Tyneside to provide a Mental Health Awareness session to their beneficiaries.

Of the sessions delivered to date we have achieved

  • 821 hours of attendance by students
  • 104 hours of volunteering 

Additional delivery opportunities include

  • Restorative Yoga programme starting 22nd June 2022,
  • External trips into the wider community (moving from our Safe-Space to Brave-Space) including art galleries, field trips and use of local Leisure centres.
  • There will be a cold-water 31 day challenge in October which we will be preceded by Confidence building swims at Hadrian Leisure Centre.

The feedback from attendees includes:

“NT LIFE really helps to emphasize that you are important and self-care is not something “arty farty” but that it enables you to improve yourself and feel a whole lot better”

“I’m now aware that there is always a choice”

“I’ve learned to love being challenged in a positive way”

“NT LIFE is non-judgemental, it’s taking things “not too seriously” so that you learn without it being obviously “taught””

“You CAN help yourself”

“I didn’t speak week 1 but now I contribute every week, that’s progress!”

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