Investment to safeguard and improve a valuable community asset
During 2018, Southdown invested over £400,000 to protect and improve a much-loved local community support service venue in East Sussex.
Carisbrooke House, located in Stockleigh Road, St Leonard’s-on Sea, has been the base for mental health recovery services for over 15 years. In 2017, Southdown successfully won the contract to manage and transform community mental health wellbeing services across East Sussex. This involved the provision of seven Wellbeing Centres, including the service that operates from Carisbrooke House.
Following the announcement of the award of contract to Southdown, the previous provider, who owned Carisbrooke House, indicated that their Board had decided to sell the property on the open market. This was an unforeseen event and it was clear from existing clients and the staff (who TUPE transferred employment to Southdown) that the building was a much-loved and regarded venue within the community. Fortunately, Southdown was able to use capital reserves and negotiate to purchase the freehold of the property, maintain continuity of service delivery and safeguard the building for the local community.
Since taking over ownership of Carisbrooke House, utilising our experience as a registered provider of social housing, we have undertaken a full asset management review of the property and developed an improvement plan. Immediate works have included the replacement of the roof and installation of solar panels, fire and electrical improvement works and hard landscaping of the garden to enable safe and accessible use by clients.
As part of the new mental health contract, we are now delivering an innovative out-of-hours ‘Staying Well Space' from Carisbrooke House. This provides evening and weekend, recovery-focussed support to help people manage urgent mental health needs and prevent escalation to crisis. This is in line with the Government’s Crisis Care Concordat strategy that aims, through organisations working together better, to make sure that people get the help they need when they are having a mental health crisis, including increased access to non-clinical interventions and settings.
Under the ‘Beyond Places of Safety’ Department of Health Grant funding programme, Southdown has recently successfully bid for £30,000 of additional capital funding that will enable further improvements at Carisbrooke House including reconfiguration of meeting space to expand opportunities for other agencies to use the building.
We're currently reviewing all our other six Wellbeing Centre venues across East Sussex, with plans to purchase a new venue in Hailsham and make improvements to other buildings leased from East Sussex County Council to maximise use and accessibility.