Frontline stories: from The Hub Academy


We asked Hub Academy Lead Beanie Cooke about the impact of the lockdown on our Hub Academy where we provide both a supportive learning environment for people recovering from addiction and associated trauma and a comfortable conference and training space for delivery of CPD to professionals. 

Lockdown hit us hard at The Hub Academy. We were operating a full programme with around 60 visitors each day and were at the start of a process to encourage our local community to use the building. We had set up a range of new courses and the energy and excitement for the next phase was huge. We held our Community Open Day on March 14th– all the signs were that we were entering a new phase of development… a week later all clients and community visitors were in lockdown, the building had been turned into our admissions suite and the Academy team had been relocated into residential services.

Even though we are used to change here at The Nelson Trust, it was change on an unprecedented scale; the Academy team had been dispersed, our roles turned upside down and our usual base closed to us. Honestly it felt devastating on a personal and professional level but I felt so proud of the way we adapted. We definitely dug deep, stayed flexible and searched for every buried skill or idea that we could bring to the table.

Lockdown has reminded me how diverse a staff team we are and everyone’s willingness to muck in is exceptional. It’s been an incredibly useful learning experience and personally given me an even greater level of respect for the Residential team who work their socks off every day to ensure clients are supported. It has also brought home to me how vital connection is. It is what our work is about and why we turn up every day. No amount of dislocation or isolation can break the connections we have here. We just get creative in finding ways to sustain them!

Now we have opened the building to our clients and very slowly we are reintroducing a timetable of workshops to provide the essential education, training and employment component of the treatment programme. It feels like there is more oxygen, more space and more hope that positive learning will come out of this time. I’m looking forward to welcoming back our community college tutors at some point and to the familiar noise and bustle of Hub Academy life. It will happen. We have big plans as always… we want to build a Wellbeing Suite equipped with a large studio and two practice rooms for massage, acupuncture, reflexology etc., we want to increase our ‘On Prescription’ arts courses for the most vulnerable in our community and we want to expand our evening and weekend courses. I have total faith that this will happen.

Meanwhile I take solace from my allotment and the regular rhythm of walking my dogs. My first grandchild has been born in lockdown and this ‘Coronial’ brings more joy and connection than I could imagine. She represents the life and hope that is forever present here.

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