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New mental health facility in former registry office could open in part by end of 2019

PUBLISHED: 19:31 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:31 13 June 2019

Churchman House in Norwich, which is poised to become a pioneering wellbeing hub. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Churchman House in Norwich, which is poised to become a pioneering wellbeing hub. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk.

A pioneering facility providing early intervention mental health care could be partially up and running by the end of the year.

After Norwich City Council agreed to lease Churchman House on Bethel Street to the NHS for a new wellbeing hub, it has been revealed the first elements of the service could be launched in December.

Inspired by similar facilities in Aldershot, Bradford and Lambeth, the facility is aimed at cutting down the number of mental health patients being sent outside of the county for care by providing support at the earliest opportunity.

Tony Palframan, of the Norfolk and Waveney sustainability and transformation partnership, said: "We hope the very first elements of the wellbeing hub can begin in December, such as a night-time safe place for people in significant distress who are referred in by a health or care professional.

"We remain grateful to our partners at Norwich City Council for their continued support to help the Norfolk and Waveney STP establish a wellbeing hub. We are drawing on national funding to pay for this, for the benefit of local people."

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However, the full extent of the facility's services will likely come after this date, with the STP taking a phased approach to opening it.

Dr Palframan added: "Our vision is that it will go on to house a day time walk-in facility and community café where people can find emotional support when they feel their anxieties or other mental health problems are escalating.

"We would like this important element to be up and running by the spring.

"It is really important for the safety and wellbeing of service users that we roll out this service carefully, one step at a time.

"Wellbeing hubs - or crisis cafés - in other parts of the country have been both successful and valued by service users, and with Norwich City Council's partnership we hope to bring this a step closer in central Norfolk."

Churchman House, a grade one listed building, most recently housed the county's registry office, however has been empty since Norfolk County Council ended its tenancy in 2016.

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