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A Place Called Joy

13/04/2023 | Fiona Shaw

Open Door's Lee Pennington has big plans. "Bloom Building isn’t big enough," he says. "We need to be bolder."

“It’s been transformational for where we’re at now, but we need to get a better, more bespoke, brighter, building and to diversify how we sustain what’s now a £1m turnover plus charity.

“We need to adapt and grow and change. Joy allows us to realise the potential of what the charity is now.

“It’s a coming together of public, private and third sector, in a way that they don’t come together and deliver services together and coexist and co-inhabit and enhance each other’s offers – anywhere in the country.”

Read our interview with Lee and more about the Open Door Charity's work here

The former Treasury Annexe, on the corner of Hamilton Square, will see Open Door move in to a building that’s bursting with colour, sound… and movement.

Slides will snake down each staircase; swings will float people around the building. It’s a place designed to shape change, raise aspirations and improve life and health outcomes; an inclusive setting to reach people otherwise disengaged from services, support vulnerable members of the community, with art and culture at its heart.

Facilities like a café and a barber and an outdoor performance space will be joined by social organisations like Convenience Gallery, PositiviTree and Happy Times Activities.

Conversations are ongoing, but services including midwifery, 0-19 Health and Wellbeing and suicide prevention support from CAMHS are poised to head for Joy, too.

“For Wirral – and further afield,” he says, “if we take all the NHS Trusts – our strategic and delivery partners – well, depending who you talk to and what day of the week it is, that’s the most progressive NHS health centre in the country. It’s giving the NHS the ability to talk a different language to the public.”

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Pennington is unfazed by the jump. “This ‘let’s get the gang together thing’, is what we’re good at. It seems natural,” he says.

“How complicated is it that, anywhere where there’s stairs in a building, there should be a kid’s slide next to it? Isn’t it obvious? You’ve got to make the place have good energy and form. It’s not expensive.

“Some of the organisations in there are working with people of all ages with learning disabilities or an autism diagnosis.

“And we know that all the evidence suggests to create places that people can swing off and climb on and hang off and stuff like that. It creates a bespoke space for people with those needs.

“Why wouldn’t we do that?”

Learn more about Joy online


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