New Wigan mental health facility now a ‘place of belonging’ after a £500k overhaul

A new child mental health facility has been transformed from a tired old building to a to a centre with a “sense of belonging”.
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The Helping Hands Centre in Ince, run by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), now boasts a brand new sensory room, therapeutic areas and treatment rooms thanks to a £500,000 overhaul.

The unit supports young people up to the age of 18 years who live in the borough, and are experiencing mental health problems which may be causing difficulties in their school, family or social life.

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Launch event for Wigan's  Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) centre in InceLaunch event for Wigan's  Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) centre in Ince
Launch event for Wigan's Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) centre in Ince
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The service works together with young people, alongside their families, schools and people who know them best, to assess and co-develop a plan to help improve and manage their mental health.

Over the course of three months, GMMH created a new sensory room, increased floor space to enhance therapeutic areas, remodelled treatment rooms and staff offices and created a staff changing area with showers for those who cycle to work.

The idea behind this was to ensure young people are receiving mental health care and treatment in the best environment possible, and that they can feel that when they walk in.

Amanda Brown, director of operations at GMMH, said: “I think it gives the opportunity for a more welcoming environment for our children and young people with their families, to come through the door. It is a sense of identity, a sense of place and a sense of belonging which is why it is vital that Wigan and Leigh is represented there.

Amanda Brown, director of pperations at GMMH outside Wigan CAMHS) centre in InceAmanda Brown, director of pperations at GMMH outside Wigan CAMHS) centre in Ince
Amanda Brown, director of pperations at GMMH outside Wigan CAMHS) centre in Ince
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“The service is vital for early intervention. The families need to be empowered and supported to bring up their children in the best way possible.

"The rapid response team and the HITT (High Intensity Treatment team) team are all based here as well.”

The staff believe that when people see that this fresh start can help boost their own morale as well as the service users. The ‘tired old building’ did not give off the message that the Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) is trying to bring to young people.

Their service users and the youth cabinet in Wigan were at the forefront of the design of the building and bringing their vision to the refurbishment. Working with GMMH’s teams, they identified landmarks in Wigan that they felt were important to display as artwork, such as Wigan Pier.

Wigan's  Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) centre in Ince during the refurbishmentWigan's  Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) centre in Ince during the refurbishment
Wigan's Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) centre in Ince during the refurbishment

Local illustrator Dave Draws brought this to life with a doodle map mural covering an entire wall. Young people from the service also played an important role in bringing gender neutral options to the facility design – like gender-neutral toilets.

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They also choose the colours to be used throughout the building to make them softer and more relaxing. Artwork by children and young people from the service will start to decorate the reception area to ensure the space reflects and welcomes them. ​

“It is their building and we want them to have a sense of ownership as well as their families and it to be warm and welcoming,” Amanda added. “The children and young people were so involved.

“This is what is important to people, they have a strong sense of community and identity in Wigan and Leigh.

"With the change in national agenda with place being really important and the way they embrace it early on really suits the area.”

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