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Richmond House 2015 New Use

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The new drug and alcohol recovery centre at Richmond House opened on  Monday 14th December 2015.

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Finishing touches were still being added to the interior of Richmond House when, on Sunday 13th December,  several members of staff (including volunteers) explained the centre's intended operation to Round Hill residents. We were shown both the ground floor, where clients will be based and the upper floor of Richmond House which makes generous provision for administration of the service as well as staff meetings, workshops and training

Clients using the service will approach the reception area via the car park side entrance.

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This vantage point at the junction of Richmond Rd and D'Aubigny Road, now located above the delivery service road to Lewes Road Sainsbury, was once both the platform of Lewes Road railway station (the first stop on the now demolished Kemp Town branch line) and the storage area for a pickle-bottling enterprise.

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The new users of this entrance will be people who have made a decision to address problems of drug and alcohol addiction and who need support and/or medical services to help them in this commitment.

 

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 A lot of effort has been made to create a clean, comfortable and welcoming environment. The sad interior of Richmond House (which was used as an argument for demolition before the planning application for a 5-storey student complex was finally dismissed by the government's appeal inspector) had been completely transformed. The new use involves the charity Cranstouns working together with Pavilions Partnership which includes Brighton & Hove's Health Trust.

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There are 40 members of staff, though they won't all be working in Richmond House at the same time. Other services in the city remain.

The service in The Drive, Hove will be in place until April 2016 and alternative site may be found for a centre on the Hove / Hangleton side of the city.

However, the intention is to bring several services together, especially on the Brighton side of the city, into Richmond House,  The recovery service  located for several years at the junction of Ditchling Road and Upper Lewes Road, will now be absorbed into Richmond House.

 

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Cranstouns has significant experience in running drug and alcohol recovery services and recognise the value of support from the local community in order for them to succeed. Nobody recovering from any condition wants to feel unwanted and marginalised.

The Round Hill Society wants to play a supporting role to the new recovery centre, though we will continue to represent our residents' concerns. Good liaison with those running Cranstouns is key. It was pleasing to see volunteers among the charity's staff during the open day for Round Hill residents. Hopefully, there will be opportunities for additional volunteers drawn from our neighbourhood. We may also be able to negotiate some community meeting space (e.g. the use of rooms outside of the hours of operation).

 

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 Most clients will have appointments before they visit Richmond House, though there will be 4 drop-in appointments per day so that those in dire need of help who may be unable to structure their lives may be encouraged to make the initial contact with the recovery centre.

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The generous accommodation allows a variety of approaches to the task of providing recovery services. Both one-to-one and small group meetings are catered for by different-sized rooms. There are also opportunities for clients to see a doctor, a nurse, a recovery/support worker.

Below is just one example of bullet points which might be used during a small group welcome presentation.

 

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Not all the furniture was in place on the open afternoon for local residents, though it was encouraging to see wide carpeted corridors, which will soon acquire comfortable seating, opposite the consulting rooms on the ground floor. My feeling was that Cranstouns means business and the provision being made, both human and material resources, will maximise the chances of success. Seeing a building before the clients arrive is different from seeing it in use, but I felt that the layout showed promise.

 

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The upper floor of Richmond House provides generous accommodation for admin. The philosophy of bringing disparate services under one roof requires this level of provision. 

  

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Many who have been employed in social services will have encountered the shortcomings of hot-desking, but I found it reassuring that the admin floor of a service dependent on good communication and accurate knowledge of its clients' health, contained a good number of work stations. 

 

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It was also pleasing to see this open plan area, once used as a call centre, looking so inviting again when it was permitted to become so shabby in the quest to demolish the building.

  

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In the quest over the last two years to find both a suitable and economically viable use for Richmond House, several Round Hill residents have mentioned the building's potential as a care home.

The panaromic views from the upper floor are especially inviting to residents who know the Lewes Road valley and the ascent via Bear Road and Woodvale to Race Hill. They would provide good visual amenity for people who are less mobile and who need to be looked after mainly in one place.

 

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A care home may well be a future use, but in the meantime it is good to see another use involving the health of a significant number of people in our city who have made a conscious decision to tackle problems of addiction which adversely affect their lives.

The number of services available to them under one roof in this new centre should make for good continuity of care.

  

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Also on the upper floor, are rooms where staff can meet. An open plan environment has certain advantages. However, it is desirable as well to have facilities allowing smaller groups to close themselves off.

Anybody who has attempted team teaching in an open plan environment will have longed on occasions to have some more private space which can be closed off for smaller group use or functions such as Powerpoint presentations.

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There are therefore good opportunities for in-service training, workshops, presentations etc.

I left Richmond House on Sunday 13th December, feeling that the provisions made showed a lot of promise. I expect that other local residents felt the same, but are also curious to see how the building will operate once the first clients come through the door.  

This recovery centre is now open for people who are able to admit to a state of  over-dependence on drugs &/or alcohol, themselves recognising a health problem which is best addressed. Looking round the centre left me with the impression that Cranstoun's were both purposeful and realistic and the staff were keen to use their experience in both a helpful and non-judgemental way. We wish the recovery centre and people using it every success.

You can also follow Pavilions at Richmond House on Twitter by clicking on @Pavilions_org.

This page was last updated by Ted on 10-Sep-2018
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