A local charity has been praised for its innovative day services by a leading international authority on mental health on a recent visit to the UK.

Blyth Star Enterprises welcomed a visit from Norway-based senior clinical manager and published scholar, Arne Thomassen, to its headquarters in Blyth, Northumberland, where he was taken on a tour of the charity’s extensive services by chief executive, Gordon Moore.

Having first been introduced to Blyth Star Enterprises over 20 years ago through the Asclepius programme, which aimed to bring together health and social care professionals from across the globe to share best practice, Arne has remained in regular contact with Gordon and the team at Blyth Star Enterprises, providing a professional ‘sounding board’ for new ideas and methods of service delivery.

On his recent visit, Arne was introduced to some of the charity’s long-term service users and was shown around its sheltered work facilities at The Woodfuel Centre and Stakeford Nurseries.

“I have always been impressed by the quality of the services provided by Blyth Star Enterprises,” Arne commented.

“In the course of my research over the past 30 years, I have been keen to explore how a combination of medicines, holistic therapies and relationship building can have a positive impact on a person who suffers from long-term mental ill health.

“The sheltered work environments at Blyth Star’s Woodfuel Centre and Stakeford Nurseries help to bring these disciplines together and the results are incredibly effective. The service users I met love spending time at Blyth Star and have made marked progress in their personal and social development.”

Arne’s research in collaboration with social work and mental health specialist, Tore Dag Bøe is highly regarded across Europe with their published works widely promoted as part of the psychology reading syllabus at a number of Norwegian colleges and universities. Their third collaborative work, ‘From psychiatry to mental health care: On ethics, relationships and networks’ is the first to be translated into the English language and has been a source of inspiration for Blyth Star Enterprises.

“From the outset, what we have tried to create at Blyth Star Enterprises is a pathway from hospitalisation to independent living for our service users and Arne’s work has been a big influence in this,” said Gordon Moore, chief executive at Blyth Star Enterprises.

“When I first met Arne in the early 1990s, many people thought that his ideology about relationship-driven therapy was too radical, but having seen how well our service users at Blyth Star respond to being treated as individuals, not patients, I couldn’t agree with his theory more!

“We were delighted to have Arne visit us and his positive feedback about our day services is testament to the hard work of all our staff and volunteers. We hope that our overseas relationship can continue to have a positive impact on each other’s work in the field of mental health in the years to come.”

Founded by a group of parents and carers in 1987, Blyth Star Enterprises supports over 350 people living with severe and enduring mental ill health and or learning disabilities across Northumberland.

Employing over 60 full and part-time members of staff and volunteers, the charity provides a range of innovative day services as well as rehabilitation and assisted living support.