Patients and colleagues have come together to mark the start of work on a £4.6 million expansion of the Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust’s Parkview Mental Health Clinic in Birmingham.
Our Chief Executive, Sarah-Jane Marsh, and BWC Expert by Experience, Zaynab Sohawon, jointly cut the sod, the ceremonial first piece of ground, with spades in the space that will soon become new wards for young patients in our Trust's specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service inpatient care.
The works will renovate the Heathland (general adolescence) and Ashfield (acute adolescent) under-18 units. This will allow them to offer a better experience by removing dormitory-style bedrooms and providing every young person with a single en-suite room and brighter and more accessible lounge and therapeutic spaces.
The project was set into motion after Zaynab, Chairperson for Think4Brum, a participation group within the Trust's mental health services, initially proposed the idea to Sarah-Jane following her experiences as an inpatient at Parkview.
Speaking at the ceremony, she said: "I was in Hospital for four years in inpatient units and came to Parkview for my last inpatient stay.
"I started doing activism and volunteering work for Think4Brum, which is the youth mental health advisory group for Forward Thinking Birmingham. I spoke to Sarah-Jane Marsh and talked about how maybe Parkview wasn't fit for purpose.
“Often inpatients is quite a scary place,” she added. “It might be physically safe, but it might not be emotionally safe.”
Zaynab was delighted to later find out that the Trust had secured a £4.6m investment from NHS England for the improvement works, which began in December 2021.
“What I’m hoping is that this new building will ease worries and make sure that young people are in an emotionally safe place and have a therapeutic space,” she said.
“I think it will be lots better for the young people as it won’t be such an institutionalised environment.”
Sarah-Jane said: "Mental Health Services are one of the most important parts of what the NHS does and one of our most important services at BWC.
"Young people have been instrumental in this coming to life from the outset. It was their idea. They directly challenged me when I went to join one of their Saturday meetings and said, 'is this good enough?'"
"It really set the ball rolling and they've been involved then all through in terms of the design of the building, particularly people who’ve been inpatients themselves. They know better than we ever could about what's needed. It will be a unit for young people designed by young people."
Alex Borg, Executive Director of Mental Health Services at the Trust, also spoke at the Ceremony. He said: "These works are going to be completely transformative in terms of the care we are able to provide.
"In terms of moving to on-suite rooms, it will mean the young people will have a place where they can go and have some time for themselves. Some of the young people are with us for some time, so having their own rooms and somewhere to call their own is really important."
The works to Heathlands contracted to Building Services Now, are scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2022.
Watch back the ceremony on our BWC YouTube Channel.