Health and wellbeing are important to StART, we want what happens before, during and after redevelopment to improve the quality of life for residents and the wider community. Being sited next to a hospital gives us a fantastic opportunity to involve service users, carers and health service in the redevelopment. When we talk about health on the site we mean new health services, supported and specialist homes for vulnerable people, and a built environment that encourages people of all ages and abilities to socialise and support each other. We are keen to develop a vision for a shared ‘growing space’ along the border between the housing development and the hospital, a place where service users, residents and NHS workers can come together to work the land. While we wait for the building to begin we’ll be starting ‘meanwhile’ activities, maybe as a way of promoting recovery and inclusion. We’ve been going out to talk to service users and carers to see what they think.
In December last year we spoke to mental health service users at the MIND group in Finsbury Park. It was a small group but most had had experience of being treated in St Ann’s and were familiar with the hospital and the site. There was a range of expertise too, there was an architect in the group as well as full time carers. The main message we got from the participants was that service users are a diverse group and that ‘one size’ does not fit all. This was especially true when we talked about ‘supported’ housing, people felt that some people might not like being so close to the hospital, but that there were those who would benefit from being close to services especially if they had long term conditions. MIND have also developed their own growing space and want to support us bringing one to St Ann’s.
We were delighted to be invited to speak at the Haringey Service User and Carer Forum meeting in February. The group is run by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust who provide many of the services at St Ann’s. The meeting took place at the hospital and was themed ‘St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust: Being Good Neighbours’. It was a well-attended meeting with as many staff as service users. We told the story of the ownership of the site from the Order of the Knights of St John to the present-day ownership by the GLA, people were interested in developing a health legacy on the site. The staff present could see the opportunities for both meanwhile activities and a longer-term relationship with the housing development. A carer told us about the need for supported housing that promotes independence but has support available 24/7. StART member Viv told the group about our plan to start a drawing group on the hospital site very soon, the group will be open to both staff and patients. We didn’t have enough time to talk about everything we wanted to, but we will be going back to the group as the development progresses.
Both meetings were an invaluable opportunity to meet and gain the views of the users of St Ann’s, the needs and wishes of whom StART have always been keen to incorporate into the site plans and its sense of community. We’ve started a dialogue with both service users and staff, exploring ideas for the final site and ideas for meanwhile use.