AN EXPERT who helped a community transform its fortunes has returned to lead a heath centre.
Leigh Ann Ramsay has already worked alongside Healthworks in Easington Colliery, to help those with mental health issues find jobs and stay in work.
Now she has become the venue’s health improvement specialist after the departure of co-ordinator Fiona Maher, who left to help lead an NHS graduate management scheme.
Leigh Ann’s career so far has seen her work for Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust for a decade, before she became an employment retention coach with Mental Health Matters, which has a base in Sunderland.
She is looking to use her experience to expand the award-winning Healthwork’s scope and reach out to more people to help them improve their wellbeing, skills and job prospects.
Leigh Ann said: “I think what’s already happened here is fantastic, but I think it could be so much more.
“We want to try and get out further to get to these harder to reach people.”
She has previously worked alongside the Recovery Academy, which is linked to the drug and alcohol teams in Peterlee and is a 12-step programme for recovering addicts.
It runs a leadership programme and mentoring scheme, which helps people get back into their community, and Leigh Ann hopes further links can be forged with it to strengthen the Paradise Lane centre’s work.
She also hopes to build on its Juiceworks, soup and healthy tea sessions, as well as its volunteer programme, as many of those who have already signed up have tapped into its groups, which have in turn helped get them into new careers or back into work.
Healthworks was opened in 2007 and is run by NHS County Durham and Darlington Community Health Services.
It is based in a former pump-house building, owned by Northumbrian Water, which backs the project along with Durham County Council.
Age UK, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, a careers service, police surgeries and a GP practice are all based at the centre, which houses a gym and IT suite among other facilities.