THE NEW Mental Health Drop-in Centre officially opened in Bridport, providing much needed support to those suffering with or recovering from mental illness in the town and surrounding communities.
Created following a concerted campaign by local activists the centre, located at 5 Downes Street, offers a sanctuary to those in need without having to travel to major cities. 
Currently open on Thursday from 10am to 3pm for the next month while staffing positions are filled, the centre will then open on Mondays, Wednesday's, Thursday's and Friday's from 10am to 3pm.
The centre will provide an informal drop-in service, and will include people who have reached a level of stability in their illness, and those who may be receiving support from mental health services.
Strong links with community health services and local doctors will also be maintained.
Lesley Archibald, Centre Chair, said: “I would really like people to come and use the centre, not just older people but others such as young mothers or the unemployed. We can't provide clinical services, it is more of an informal service, but people often find what they need in supporting each other.”
“We would like as many volunteers as possible who are willing to undertake a bit of training. So far though we have had a very good reaction but we need volunteers all the time.”
Dr Andrew Mayers, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Bournemouth University and invited speaker for the opening said it was important to have local mental health facilities, particularly in 'rural' communities where people may be older and more isolated. 
“You need local services if just for a place where people can come in and talk, and encourage people to take notice and remove the stigma of mental health illnesses. Peer to peer support is very valuable, not just treatment or medication, but having someone to talk to,” he said.
Roz Copson, Service User at the Centre, said: “Ever since the closure of Hughes' (mental health unit at Bridport Hospital) there has been a lack of drop-in facilities. There are so many people around that have issues and nowhere to go and no one to turn to. This centre will really help.”
Bridport town and county councillor Ros Kayes was present for the opening, has campaigned for more local facilities for mental health service users.
“We hope that people will come to view the centre as a home away from home in the future. Donations are still needed, such as games and books, and they are all welcomed,” she said.