A new rest facility was officially opened at Brunswick Gardens today (Friday), reinforcing the strength of an ongoing partnership between the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Mental Health Service and the Ballamona Association for Mental Health (BAMH) .
An open day held to mark the creation of the new facility was attended by MHKs, DHSC senior management and representatives of BAMH, which helped to fund more than half of the cost.
BAMH’s longest serving member and current president, Tom Cowell MBE, was handed the honour of cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony, unveiling a wooden plaque created by the Manx Workshop for the Disabled.
Brunswick Gardens has been run by the Mental Health Service since 2002. Set in more than five acres off Albany Road in Douglas, the Next Step Training Unit occupies around a third of the area and offers users the opportunity to undertake a range of activities including: gardening, site maintenance, landscaping, wood working and ornamental projects.
As well as providing shelter from the elements, the new rest facility includes office space, a multi-function room, kitchen/dining area, cleaner’s room, toilet and disabled toilet, drying room, patio and pedestrian walkway.
The future of Brunswick Gardens looked uncertain at one stage as the structural integrity of the former rest facility was deteriorating and was almost beyond repair. However, BAMH members voted in favour of providing assistance with funds to construct a new building.
The agreement allowed the DHSC to cement its commitment to the site by signing a 14-year lease with owners Brunswick Gardens Limited, which comprises many residents of surrounding properties on Albany Road, Cronkbourne Road and Brunswick Road.
Minister for Health and Social Care Kate Beecroft MHK said:
‘Brunswick Gardens is a terrific example of what can be achieved when government, the third sector and the community combine to help and support vulnerable people.
‘The valuable work done on this site over many years should not be underestimated, and the staff should be congratulated as the work they do has had such a positive effect on the lives of many users and their families.
‘With the new facility and lease now in place, the Department looks forward to the gardens playing a key role in providing therapy and sanctuary for years to come.’
The project has taken 10 months to complete and is forecast to cost £200,000, with BAMH generously providing £105,000.
The charity, which was formed 51 years ago, has a longstanding relationship with Brunswick Gardens, helping to buy grass seed while the site was established and later providing support to fund machinery, a liner for the large pond, bee hives, open days, food for the fish and wildlife, plus much more.
Representatives from Craig’s Heartstrong Foundation were also in attendance during the open day to mark the charity’s donation of a defibrillator.