Published date: 26 October 2021

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

The Unity Centre, Ipswich


Whitton Clinic is in a deprived area of Ipswich. As part of our Social Prescribing programme, we seek out opportunities to transform vacant and underused indoor and outdoor space to improve community wellbeing, especially where doing so can help tackle inequalities.

We identified that Whitton Clinic had vacant space and set out to repurpose this unused clinical setting for the benefit of the community within Whitton.


Working closely with the CCG to understand local needs, 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. 

Space previously used for dental treatments has been converted into one room to create kitchen and seating area to support a new community cafe.  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 many different community members and groups.

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


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.

A new community café, run by Combat2Coffee, provides rehabilitation, training, and outreach for veterans as well as other vulnerable people who may be suffering from mental health problems. The café was founded by Nigel Seaman who served in the armed forces for 12 years before a career as a prison officer. 

Other organisation that will use the hub 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.

NHS services also continue to be delivered from this site.

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.”