Turning vacant space into a social prescribing hub in Suffolk.

Many social prescribing networks are in need of more appropriate and affordable space to meet with patients and for community groups to host activities. As an owner of 3000 properties, NHS Property Services is in prime position to offer such space and chose Hartismere Hospital as a proof of concept since it had significant vacant space.

We worked with the local community to help shape the site and what it would be used for, including organising steering groups with patient participant groups, the local authority, clinical teams and VCSE organisations. We restructured and renovated Hartismere Hospital’s old birthing unit, creating bookable indoor space for groups of up to 40, a separate room for small groups, kitchen, play area, and office space. Outside, we created allotment beds, a sensory garden and an outdoor gym.

Since the centre opened in July 2019, over 150 people have benefited from facilitated sessions including those by Headway, Eye Health Centre, Stroke and Aphasia Group, peri-natal mental health training, Marie Curie, and local and regional patient participant groups.