St Luke's Church and Neighbourhood Centre
St Luke's Church and Neighbourhood Centre is located in Longsight, Manchester, an area with high levels of unemployment and social deprivation. For almost 20 years the church has functioned as a working alternative to traditional centres dealing with people who have long term mental health needs by providing informal drop-ins and other innovative services.
St Luke's felt that many of its users would greatly benefit from complementary therapies but recognised that such services were prohibitively expensive for those on benefits or low income. In response to this, the St Luke's Treatment Room was established in May 2003. The aim of the Treatment Room is to provide 'affordable complementary therapies to drop-in users and local people and to encourage positive health and well-being'. This is achieved by having professionally qualified therapists in comfortable surroundings who offer massage and reflexology sessions at low costs (just 5 pounds) to those with mental health needs who receive benefits.
In addition to the therapies, St Luke's has a counsellor regularly present at weekly drop-ins to offer informal support and also provides formal counselling free to certain groups.
The centre also houses the St Luke's Art Project, an open art studio which provides people with mental health needs a place to express themselves creatively in a safe and comfortable place. Organised by Artist-in-Residence Alison Kershaw, the project works mainly with individuals suffering from conditions such as anxiety and depression, and evidence suggests that users have improved self-esteem and an increase in interests and opportunities to improve their quality of life.