Open Door Charity

Looking to build on his own experiences from early adulthood, Charity Director Lee Pennington, founded the Birkenhead-based Open Door Charity, to provide free, fast and effective mental health support at the point it was needed most.

Designed for young people by young people, this dynamic and progressive organisation continues to deliver a range of award-winning services using innovation, arts, and culture as a catalyst for change, over a decade on.

“Today my role at Open Door Charity is Executive Assistant to the Senior Leadership Team,” says Niall Miller. “But I first became involved four years ago when I was referred to their programme.

“At the time I was struggling with both depression and anxiety, seeking alternative support when I was given a long waiting list by traditional services. I instantly felt at home in the welcoming environment here and, thanks to the staff and my peer mentor, as well as the range of creative therapeutic care provided, my wellbeing significantly improved,” he adds.

Open Door’s Bloom Building HQ

Niall continues, “At Open Door Charity all our support options are delivered by a team of around 100 peer mentors – and we believe that having an organisation built on lived experience not only ensures that the support process is wholly unique, but provides a positive route towards not just feeling better now, but staying better for the long term.”

Kindred has been a firm supporter of Open Door Charity and its invaluable care provision since the outset. And, as one of the first organisations Kindred invested in, the money received was used to roll out a pilot for what would become its ‘Bazaar’ referral programme. 

“Our core offer, the Bazaar programme, has been a huge success,” Niall says. “Designed to tackle low mood and anxiety, it’s an eight-week hour-long computerised therapeutic course, delivered face-to-face by volunteer peer mentors. Blending elements of CBT, mindfulness and more, to help people aged 17-35 understand their subconscious thought patterns, it provides the skills, tools and techniques a young person needs to take control of the pressures everyday life puts on us in these modern times.

“With this initial money from Kindred, the pilot not only involved organisations across Liverpool City Region, but also the likes of Oxford and Northumbria Universities, ensuring that what was developed was tailored to different audiences, whilst also addressing the huge need for creative mental health support across the country,” he adds.

“Also, in November last year we received support from Kindred in the form of a cost-of-living grant, which, in these difficult times, has helped us maintain consistent programming at our Bloom Building home, ensuring both creative activities and cultural events could continue running alongside our essential support services.”

With plans to provide the Bazaar programme on a national level, as well as extra support needed locally, Open Door Charity is always on the lookout for more peer mentor volunteers, and has a number of fundraising events coming up Kindred members can support.

Find out more about Open Door Charity here.