Exeter’s first health and wellbeing hub gets ready to reveal transformation to public
By Anita Merritt
Building work to create Exeter’s first health and wellbeing hub at Wat Tyler House is due to be completed next week.
Works began last June to redesign the building in King William Street following a grant of £440,000 from Public Health England.
It is utilising half of the space left empty after Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) moved to the Civic Centre, by making Wat Tyler House into one big space offering a wide range of services to meet the needs of people with very complex lives.
Currently it is home to Exeter Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) among other organisations. New additional services will include The Dorset, Devon and Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company; RISE – Recovery and Integration Service; and The Clock Tower Surgery, a GP practice for the homeless and vulnerably housed population. The surgery is relocating from New North Road.
Although the transformation of the building is almost complete, its official launch date won’t be until June.
Amanda Kilroy, Exeter CVS deputy chief executive, said: “It will probably be during the third week of June because we want to make sure everyone is in and settled, and the outside space is done.
“We’re into the last week of builders being on site. It looks amazing and is so light. There are areas with windows where there wasn’t any so we’re seeing a view that hasn’t been seen before. It has opened up the space so much.
“Some organisations are moving in such as probation. There has been a bit of delay with the doctors surgery due to specialist cabling work which Virgin have not finished. They are waiting for a final date for it to be completed and the surgery then have to give patients four weeks notice of when it will move.
“Other than that we are on track. I can’t quite believe it.”
The concept of creating a health and well-being hub is generating lots of interests from service providers. Enquires have been received from dental services, and more services are expected to join once it is up and running.
Amanda said: “The hub approach is seen as integral to the way services are looking to be developed in the future.
“We are aiming at a very particular client group. We want to offer something specialist to hard to reach people.
“It’s about creating joined up services. It’s a different way of thinking but everyone is rising to the challenge so well.”
Other changes are also beginning to take shape at Wat Tyler House. A new drop in service called The Exchange has been launched for people with complex needs. The idea is to focus more on positive things they can achieve in the future rather than solely on their problems.
A recent learning and social action project has seen a group from the service co-design a mural with an artist which will be painted across the shutters across the front of Wat Tyler House.
Amanda said: “It looks awful when they’re down. The mural they have created is amazing and has completely exceeded our expectations. They will now work with graffiti artists to create it.
“The Exchange also encourages people to tap into things already here at Wat Tyler House to help move things forward for them.
“At the moment we don’t have any direct funding for The Exchange; It’s very much a watch this space because if the people working at Wat Tyler House have an idea the aim is to get moving with it to see if it works rather than waiting a long time to get it in place.”