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Creating something positive out of a negative experience

Simon from the Merseyside CALMzone jumped on a bus from Liverpool city centre and headed to Liscard, an area on the Wirral to visit an exciting project he'd heard about.

What he found was a shop on the high street set up specifically for young people by a bloke called Lee Pennington who'd been through a tough time himself and decided to do something about it.

Here's his story in his own words:

"When I was younger I always knew I wanted to go to university but when the time came to decide what I actually wanted to do I didn’t have a clue. I knew I wanted to do something associated with Psychology but the regimental and theoretical aspects put me off. In the end, pretty close to deadline through clearing, I decided to do Counselling and Therapy. I liked the way it was practical and gave you the opportunity to apply what you learned to real world situations.

I completed the course and although I enjoyed it, knew it was not for me long term. I then spent five years working in music. I spent time teaching the guitar, managing a rehearsal rooms, worked as a tutor on week long music courses for kids and did bits of music journalism.

As time went on the time I was working was becoming interspersed with ever increasing periods where I would be out of work. I was actively seeking work but never got the break. This, coupled with personal issues, led to me feeling what I would describe as moderately depressed. Some days I felt fine but some days I felt really awful. I looked on the internet, researched and enquired around what help was available for somebody in my position. I found that there was little or no service provision which suited my needs. What little there was out there was, I felt, designed with a different person in mind to the type person I was.

So I began the process of designing The Open Door Centre. I wanted to come up with a service which offered an outlet to a demographic which is on the whole neglected by existing services. This is not to say neglected in terms of being ignored, but the services which I encountered, by design, are not tailored to the wants, needs and interests of the modern young person.

My intention was to design a service to take the treatment of mild depression and anxiety to young people, who would otherwise be reluctant or unwilling to seek it out for themselves. A service which is designed, staffed and managed by young people from the local area which will allow us to communicate with young people in a language which they can understand. To align itself closely with the local music scene and, using the medium of music, reach those whom it is our intention to.

If you come to the centre you can sign up to do a computer course called "Beating the Blues". You'll pair-up with a qualified support worker and spend an hour-a-week for 8 weeks, on one of our laptops, using the programme specially designed to help you see the link between how you think on one hand, and how you feel and behave on the other. In particular it works on thoughts that are unrealistic and gives you ways to change them to more helpful ways of thinking. Results are quick and extremely effective if you work through the programme and carry out weekly projects in between sessions. Those who complete the course are equipped with skills which not only allow them to deal with their feelings in the here and now but also in their future life, another element of our services lasting legacy.

Beating the Blues has been chosen as it is a modern, fresh treatment with proven results and is stylistically well suited to the core principles and ethos of The Open Door Centre. Beating the Blues is the most widely used and evidence-based Computerised Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CCBT) program for the treatment of depression.

I spent months applying for funding and, after a few setbacks, was rewarded sufficient funding to put the idea into practice and make The Open Door Centre a reality. We recently opened our doors and the response has been fantastic and universally positive. I personally am proud of the way in which I have been able to create something positive out of such a negative experience. Without experiencing that The Open Door Centre would not be here today, providing a service which hopefully over time will become a beacon for those in a similar situation locally and hopefully, long term, further afield."