New home for lifeline Sunderland art club

Sunderland Mayor Coun Norma Wright (right) and Mayoress Val Sibley with artists Gary Nicholson (left) and Anthony McGill during the opening of the new Arts Studio for people with learning disabilities in Lombard street, Hendon, Sunderland.

Sunderland Mayor Coun Norma Wright (right) and Mayoress Val Sibley with artists Gary Nicholson (left) and Anthony McGill during the opening of the new Arts Studio for people with learning disabilities in Lombard street, Hendon, Sunderland.

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AN art project set up to help people with mental health problems has officially opened its new centre.

The Art Studio, which this year celebrated its 25th anniversary, was welcomed to its premises in Lombard Street by city mayor Norma Wright.

The Hendon-based charity, which recently moved from Hind Street, helps to build self esteem, combat isolation and boost confidence.

Its workshops range from pottery to landscape painting.

Project manager Ruth Petrie said the new building will allow them to work in a more comfortable environment.

“The new building is so much better in so many ways,” she said.

“For a start, it is smaller, so is more practical in terms of health and safety.

“It is also warmer.

“We want the people who use this service to be comfortable when they are here.

“We provide these people with the chance to do things they would never normally get to do, like meet other people and express a creative side they didn’t know they had.”

Ruth said the centre has proved a big success.

“We have 40 people who use our service each week and more than 100 members all together,” she said.

“We have supported 15 people in getting a BA Honours degrees in art and a further four people get a Masters in art.”

The users of the studio are delighted at the new building too.

Anthony McGill, 64, from Silksworth, visits the project five days a week.

“This building is beautiful,” he said.

“The old one was too big, so it was really cold.

“The nice new-look building will encourage more people to come.”

Volunteer and member Liz Moses, who had used the service since January, said: “I come here almost every day and the impact it has had on my life is unbelievable.

“The new premises are fantastic and much more practical than the old building.”

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