The leader of Carlisle’s new WeCan Hub has spoken of her delight at being able to meet members of the community following a year of online-based support.

Situated next to iCan Fitness, the WeCan Hub is a new centre which is focused on helping people with their mental wellbeing.

“We’ve been calling it essentially a youth club but for adults,” leader Jenna Sutherland explained.

Jenna came on board to help develop the project at the end of September last year, with the idea then only at concept stage.

“The amount we’ve done in the last eight months has been massive," she said.

"When we first received funding, we wanted to help people face-to-face. Unfortunately, we soon went into lockdown in November so we had to quickly adapt to new parameters and find ways of helping people each month.”

In November, her team developed an online timetable, which eventually carried through the months that followed, delivering peer support groups, one-to-one telephone sessions and various workshops including Writing for Wellbeing, mindfulness sessions, crafts sessions and more.

Following the change in Government regulations in April, WeCan’s support groups were able to convene for face-to-face sessions.

Jenna said this was good timing due to the fact that the building was fully ready to open.

“Thankfully, we were able to open our doors on April 12, which was perfect timing for us. It meant that our centre was ready, which it wasn’t in September. That’s now fully renovated and we’ve now delivered three weeks of sessions face-to-face.

“We’re just so grateful to see people again. It’s been so long for so many of us and, for a lot of people in the community, this is the first time they have seen peers in over a year. A simple conversation and cup of tea is just so therapeutic for us all."

WeCan’s in-person programme now involves sessions such as a Stroke Survivors Group, Peer Support Group, Writing for Wellbein,g Walk and Talk Group and Art for Bereavement.

Jenna added: “Just seeing people face-to-face after building up relationships on a screen has been really liberating.”