Published date: 26 October 2021

Transforming Whitton Clinic into The Unity Centre to support a range of community groups

The Unity Centre, Ipswich

Challenge

Whitton Clinic is in a deprived area of Ipswich.  The building was not well utilised in some areas and void space was limited; however, NHSPS worked with the CCG estates team to reconfigure the underused areas to create the hub.

Solution

Internally, a new community café by Combat2Coffee will be run by recovering veterans, providing rehabilitation support alongside delicious food and beverages. Space previously used for dental treatments has been converted into one room to create kitchen and seating area.  The space has been decorated with new equipment and flooring to create a bright, fit-for-purpose kitchen. Two offices that were previously used separate have been reconfigured into one large room for use by the service.

Externally, the area outside the clinic has been refreshed and raised beds installed for recreational use.

We renovated the space with support from Peterborough-based construction company, Sovereign. Funding for this new facility was made possible by the national Community Ambitions Fund, in partnership with the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System and the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity, who also donated some of the white goods and café equipment. 

Impact

Called The Unity Centre, the hub will be home to several local organisations to connect with and deliver their services to people in west Suffolk. These organisations include P.H.O.E.B.E which provides information and advocacy to BAME women; Fresh Start New Beginnings, offering therapeutic support to children and young people who have reported sexual abuse and their families; Active Suffolk, which promotes sports and physical activity and Suffolk Refugee Support, offering practical advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers.

Customer Feedback

“I am so pleased to see the opening of this new hub, which is set to benefit so many people. As well as enabling local organisations to reach out to people, the hub will also be a valuable resource for widening the reach of social prescribing, by enabling health professionals to refer people to those organisations based within the new centre, to best support their health and wellbeing needs.”

Louise Hardwick, Head of Partnerships for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group

What our people said

Paul Cross, Regional Partnership Director (East of England), NHS Property Services said:

“We are delighted to have supported the Unity Centre in creating the community hub by providing a new café and refurbished space. As an estate provider within the NHS, we have an ongoing programme to provide underused or vacant space free to community groups in support of social prescribing and this is a superb example of how we are doing this.

I’m excited to see the new centre opening and welcome the inclusion of the wonderful group of organisations making such a big difference to our local community and in the process, helping to make the Clinic a vibrant, community centre complementing the family health services already provided there.”