Sunderland Empire names Washington Mind as charity for 2023

Sunderland Empire has raised the curtain on its charity partner for 2023.

Each year, the theatre select one North East charity who will be their main focus for fundraising annually, with Washington Mind unveiled for 2023.

Washington Mind, as a result of their continued support toward Sunderland Empire, were chosen by the theatre’s charity panel and via a landslide vote from the staff themselves.

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The local body has provided invaluable training for a number of staff in Mental Health First Aid, which gives those staff the ability to assist in supporting colleagues who may be experiencing poor mental health, may need to talk, or someone with the knowledge to point them towards any help they may need.

Theatre Director Marie Nixon with Sue Burnell, Peer Community Connector and Alaine Robson, Fundraising Coordinator at Washington Mind.

The training works toward normalising talking about mental health in workplaces and ensuring wellness of workers.

Washington Mind’s mission is to work in partnership with the community to promote and improve mental health and wellbeing.

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The charity’s vital services also include counselling sessions, urgent help, training including Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid, Suicide Prevention training and listening skills.

Washington Mind also offer the community a packed schedule of activities, groups and events from Pop Up Chatty Café and Knit and Natter to Craft Connections, Anxiety Management group and more.

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The two bodies aim to work together through special organised events throughout the year which the local community will be able to participate in as well as staff-based events. Funds will also be collected via buckets and QR codes at these events throughout the year and throughout Panto season.

Marie Nixon, Theatre Director, said: “Washington Mind have become an invaluable support to Sunderland Empire over the past year and our team choosing them as our nominated charity for the next 12 months is a way of saying thank you.

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"Thanks to the charity’s services, we now have a number of staff who are confident Mental Health First Aiders ensuring staff are equipped to assist, listen, and offer helpful advice to colleagues and visitors. Teaming up gives us the opportunity to help to give back to our local communities and provide those suffering from poor mental health the opportunity to benefit from more of Washington Mind’s wonderful services as we have. We are immensely looking forward to

working together.”

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Kathy McKenna, Training Manager at Washington Mind, said: “Washington Mind greatly appreciate that we have been nominated and chosen by Sunderland Empire team to be their nominated charity. We are so thankful that the work we do has been recognised in such a way.

"It is well understood that creativity is essential for good mental health. The role that theatre plays in increasing wellbeing we believe is rarely recognised and often underestimated. We know first-hand that people benefit from creative activities, recognising the link between art and mental health and this opportunity to work closely with Sunderland Empire is so exciting for us.

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"Mental health stigma remains the biggest barrier to talking about mental health and our hope is that by working together we can further challenge and breakdown such barriers.”

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