A CENTRE offering relaxing treatments to people battling serious illness and their carers has opened its doors to the public.
Healing Opportunities (Hops), in Roker, and has administered more than 1,300 complementary therapies to 400 people since it first opened four years ago.
The centre, in Roker Park Road, welcomed visitors with an open day of taster treatments, including the Mayor and Mayoress, Iain Kay and Barbara McClennan, also paid a visit.
Originally aimed at carers, people undergoing treatments for serious illnesses and those with mental health problems, Hops has now extended its work to the over-50s.
A pilot project, started in June, was so successful that it has been extended until the end of next month.
Clients referred through charities and organisations, including Mind, Headway, or their GP, pay nothing or a reduced cost for therapies, including shiatsu, aromatherapy and yoga.
People who do not fit any of the required categories, but fancy a treat, can also pay for sessions with one of Hops’ 10 fully-qualified therapists.
Hops, which is based in a Quaker meeting house, also offers self-care courses to help people stay well.
Chairwoman Sarah Richards, one of a team of dedicated volunteers, said: “Our aim is to offer complementary therapies to people who would not normally be able to access them.
“We would like to get GP sponsorship, as what we would like to do can help particular people who go to their GP not because they have a particular illness, but a general malaise.”
Volunteer manager Lesley Barefoot, who helped set up Hops, thanked Sunderland City Council for a grant which will help fund a new website for the charity.
Trustee Tom Cranston joined the board after being referred to Hops through the Carers’ Centre in Sunderland.
He said the sessions gave him valuable “me time” from caring for his wife, who has rheumatoid arthritis.
“The treatments over those 10 sessions and many more since, have improved my mental wellbeing and physical problems too,” he said.
“It’s not just the treatments themselves. It is the therapists’ care, listening skills and support before and after each treatment.
“This care makes me feel good about myself and each session gives me ‘me time’, which is a carer is very important.”
To find out more, call tel. 548 3722.
HOPS is open Monday to Thursday, from 10am-3pm.