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Improving lives

£2million mental health unit for women opened in Bolton

A new mental health inpatient ward for women funded by Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) opened on 10 May, 2018.

Honeysuckle Lodge, based on the Royal Bolton Hospital site, will provide rehabilitation and recovery services for women with mental health issues, who may otherwise receive care out of the local area.

The new facility will give women continuity of care as they prepare to leave inpatient mental health services.

Elizabeth Newman, Artistic Director of the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, visited the unit before the opening to meet the service users receiving care and hear their stories.

The unit has key links with the Octagon and plans to host workshops in drama and other performing arts for service users in the near future.

Elizabeth said: “I just wanted to take a moment to say that we’re really thrilled that these lovely women have come back to Bolton. We’re looking forward to having you as part of the theatre but also welcoming you back to the town.

“I was approached by the amazing people, who set up Honeysuckle Lodge, because I won an award last year, Woman of the Year in Bolton, which was very humbling.

“The reason why I was nominated for the award was because I am particularly interested in how we can help people, especially people that might be struggling in some way.

“My interest in working with people with mental health difficulties is because of my grandmother. She ran a day centre in Croydon called Lantern Hall, where me and my sister used to visit most days after school.

“(The service users) were amazing, I had lots of friends at my grandma’s work, and I was really excited about the idea of making new friends by coming to Honeysuckle Lodge.

“I can’t wait to come back to come back again soon, and to set up projects with the women and the theatre. I think what makes us all special human beings is when we spend time together, make theatre together and make art together.”

The launch event was attended by key stakeholders from across Bolton, as well as service users from Oak Lodge Rehabilitation unit in Bolton, who selected furnishings and contributed to the design of the new unit.

Actors Michael Peavoy and Eleanor Brown, and director Ben Occhipinti, from the Octagon Theatre recited poetry for attendees, which included the service users now receiving care at the unit.

Michael, Eleanor and Ben are involved in the Octagon Theatre’s latest production, Summer Holiday, a retelling of Cliff Richard’s 1960’s musical. Michael plays Don, Eleanor plays Barbara, and Ben is co-director, alongside Elizabeth Newman.

Honeysuckle Lodge will be run by staff from GMMH and Alternative Futures Group, who have more than 25 years’ experience providing care and support across the North West.

It has 14 en-suite bedrooms, a large day room, kitchen and dining facilities, therapy rooms and open garden space, providing a welcoming, homely environment for service users.

Shirley Wheeler, Head of Operations for Rehabilitation at GMMH, said: “We are delighted to have opened Honeysuckle Lodge today.

“The new unit is a result of GMMH’s £1.5 million commitment to refurbishing the former building, to provide the highest quality care for those with complex mental health needs, as close to their home, family and friends as possible.

“We have a fantastic working relationship with Alternative Futures Group (AFG) and this will continue in a new partnership at Honeysuckle Lodge.

“Bringing together the nationally-recognised high standards of NHS care and the recovery-focused expertise of the third sector, we are confident we will be able to provide excellent care for local women in a newly refurbished, therapeutic environment.”

Neil Thwaite, Chief Executive of GMMH, told attendees at the event “my first impression of the building was ‘wow’, but today isn’t just about this amazing refurbishment. It’s about the service users we’ll be bringing home, to receive the best care close to their local community.

“Honeysuckle Lodge is an amazing achievement and I’d like to thank everyone involved in making it happen.”

AFG’s Chief Executive, Neil Campbell, said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity to work in partnership with GMMH on Honeysuckle Lodge.  AFG has a 26-year track record of delivering care, treatment and support in a rehabilitation setting and strive to deliver person-centred care to produce better outcomes for people.

“The development of Honeysuckle Lodge will ensure that women who have been placed in out of area treatments can return to their home town, which is so important to their health and wellbeing.

“Staff at Honeysuckle Lodge will work collaboratively with the women, tailoring services to the needs and aspirations of each individual - supporting them to lead the lives they want as active citizens in their communities.”

Dr Barry Silvert, Clinical Director for Commissioning at Bolton CCG, said “it’s amazing that so many people have attended the launch event today, as it gives the staff and service users here the opportunity to share their enthusiasm for this project.

“Bolton CCG are proud to have funded Honeysuckle Lodge as it will deliver our main priorities – delivering the right care, at the right time, and in the right place. We look forward to seeing the positive outcomes for service users delivered by this unit.”

See the video of Elizabeth Newman's visit to Honeysuckle Lodge below:

See the social media feedback from the launch event in the Twitter Moment below:

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