By Allie Carr, Modern Matron, St Andrew’s Adolescent Pathway Northampton
It’s exciting times here at St Andrew’s as we are nearing the completion of our new building, FitzRoy House! This is a unit which is specifically designed for young people. And the best bit is, a lot of it was designed by young people!
As we know within the world of CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services), opportunity and expression are vital for young people, and one of the things which have enabled this new build to be so fantastic is the relationship between staff and young people in creating the designs, the art work and allowing young people to be involved at all stages.
FitzRoy House holds 11 wards, a therapy and education suite, two gyms, an activity hall, a multi-faith room, therapy kitchens, visiting areas, meeting rooms, a café – you name it, we probably have it! We’ve involved our young people at every step of the process – helping to design the layout of the new building, naming the wards and making sure that the environment is as peaceful and welcoming as possible.
By asking young people how different colours made them feel, how they affect mood and can define different types of indoor space, an overall concept was developed to reflect nature throughout the building. Themes were developed by appointed artist, Eric Klein Velderman from Cantoo Design, within hands-on art sessions involving the young people.
As a result, the ground floor of FitzRoy House now reflects an ‘earth’ theme, with the first floor designed to represent the sky.
Young people also directed how the 11 wards are named, choosing emotive words from the British countryside. The wards are: Brook, Fern, Berry, Acorn, Bracken, Maple, Willow, Oak, Sycamore, Marsh and Meadow. Each will reflect its theme through artwork on display. A competition was held amongst the young people, to name the café, the winning entry was ‘The Branch Out Café’.
The director of P+HS Architects who designed the build said: “One of the things that makes this scheme so special is that the ideas and creativity have come from the young people at St Andrews. This is even more important because FitzRoy House will be their home as they progress along their path to recovery.”
As you can see in the photo’s, our young people had some very creative sessions with the resident artist, designing different artwork for the building, they had great fun and really showed their creative side! These designs will be reflected around the building in different guises including on the walls, in bathrooms, as decals on the windows and on canvass for everyone to enjoy in years to come. One young person said: ‘It’s been fun doing this, it’s really nice to think that everything we are doing now is going to influence how people feel in the future, that we have the ability to express ourselves and tell the people who are building FitzRoy how things will work, what we like and don’t like and what will help us and other young people with our recovery.’