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New hub aims to tackle poor health caused by social factors

Local people are invited to attend a special drop-in event to celebrate the opening of a brand-new social prescribing and wellbeing hub for the Ipswich communities of Whitton and Whitehouse.

The drop-in event takes place on Thursday September 9 from 3 – 5 p.m. at The Unity Centre (part of the Whitton Clinic), Meredith Road, Ipswich IP1 6ED, with an opening ceremony being performed by ex-Spurs footballer and local man Ruel Fox.

With poor health and wellbeing often driven by social factors rather than medical issues, this new hub aims to work with and support families, young people and adults to learn new skills, improve their health and wellbeing, find employment and develop confidence to achieve their goals and transform their lives

Called The Unity Centre, the hub will be a base for a number of local organisations to connect with and deliver their services. Organisations based at the hub will include P.H.O.E.B.E which provides information and advocacy to BAME women; Fresh Start New Beginnings, offering therapeutic support to children and young people who have reported sexual abuse and their families; Active Suffolk, which promotes sports and physical activity and Suffolk Refugee Support, offering practical advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers.

A new community café has also been established by Combat2Coffee and will be run by recovering veterans, providing rehabilitation support. Combat to Coffee will be working alongside Hollesley Bay prisoners who will be roasting the beans for the café.  The café will be run by volunteers who will also learn new employment skills and confidence to become baristas.
Those attending will have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the organisations which will be based at the facility, find out more about the services they offer and how they will reach out to the local community.

Funding for this new facility has been made possible by the national Community Ambitions Fund, in partnership with the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System and the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity along with the Captain Tom Foundation. The building was renovated by NHS Property Services supported by Peterborough-based construction company Sovereign which also donated some of the white goods and café equipment. 

Louise Hardwick, Head of Partnerships and Alliance Delivery for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I am so pleased to see the opening of this new hub, which is set to benefit so many people.

“As well as enabling local organisations to reach out to people, the hub will also be a valuable resource for widening the reach of social prescribing, by enabling health professionals to refer people to those organisations based within the new centre, to best support their health and wellbeing needs.”

Chris Lawson from Active Suffolk said: “We are so proud of the partnership we have formed with the organisations and services leading on the new Unity Centre in Ipswich. Our collaboration with the community hub means residents will be invited to discover local opportunities to be more physically active through the support of our well-established Active Wellbeing service. We are excited to work with the community to reduce barriers to sport and physical activity, whilst enabling people to experience the physical and mental benefits of being active."

Mollin Delve from PHOEBE, said: “PHOEBE is delighted that this new centre will reduce isolation and provide an opportunity for black and minoritised women and children learn and to enjoy meals together.”

Paul Cross, Regional Partnership Director (East of England), NHS Property Services, said: “We are delighted to have supported the Unity Centre in creating the community hub by providing a new café and refurbished space.  As an estate provider within the NHS, we have an ongoing programme to provide underused or vacant space free to community groups in support of social prescribing and this is a superb example of how we are doing this.

“I’m excited to see the new centre opening and welcome the inclusion of the wonderful group of organisations making such a big difference to our local community and in the process, helping to make the Clinic a vibrant, community centre complementing the family health services already provided there.”

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