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August 1, 2012

Taking over the reins

When Church of Scotland lost out on the contract to deliver mental health services at Tynepark House in Haddington, service users were devastated.  Over a 20 year period, this project has been a lifeline for hundreds of local people – at any one time up to 60 are involved. But with no control over its running, service users were always vulnerable to the vagaries of the procurement process.  Better late than never, plans are afoot to restore the service – but this time with a difference.


In April this year a time capsule was buried in the grounds of Tynepark, a Haddington-based mental health resource centre, which closed its doors earlier this year.

The emotional ceremony took place during a ‘farewell afternoon’ to mark what was thought to be the end of an era for many who had used the facility over the past 20 years.

Closure came after CrossReach, a social care arm of the Church of Scotland, had been  unsuccessful in its tender for mental health day service provision in Midlothian, and which was based at Tynepark where there were more than 60 service users on its books at any one time. The new contract was awarded by East Lothian Council to Penumbra which will provide a different form of service at various locations across East Lothian.

When the news of the project’s closure came, the effect on service users was devastating – so many people relied on the mental health recovery and drop-in service. But now plans are being laid to ensure the service isn’t lost completely in the long term. The service users have taken it upon themselves to secure the use of the annexe, which is a small part of the existing property, although the Church of Scotland are pushing ahead with their plans to sell Tynepark House to a housing developer. 

From within the annexe, the new project, Mental Enablement and Empowerment (MEE) intends to carry on delivering as many of the services that had been running for twenty years. eg. computing; cooking; garden therapy; trips; arts and crafts; drama; horse-riding; peer support; one to one counselling, photography club; walking group; pottery group; cycling group; woodwork group; fitness and wellbeing room, horse-riding, and so on.  Although the project has attracted some interim funding from the Lottery to help with running costs this is limited and the services on offer will have to reflect the available resources.

MEE is currently working with a range of potential community partners with a view to achieving the longer term aim of purchasing Tynepark House from Church  of Scotland and converted the building into a multi purpose community hub.