Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Bronllys Grand Opening - Wellness & Recovery Learning Centre

Last Thursday saw the Grand Opening of the new Wellness and Recovery Learning Centre at Felindre Ward in Bronllys Hospital, Talgarth, South Powys.

L - R: Philip Bowen (High Sheriff of Powys), Christine Field (Trustee Powys Mental Health Alliance), Jane Cooke (PAVO Mental Health Project Officer), Paul, Freda Lacey (PAVO Participation Officer), Laura Gallagher (PAVO County Mental Health Development Officer).
The DIY Futures project, with its vision of learning in relation to mental health wellness and recovery, has helped enable an exciting new development in the acute in-patient mental health ward in Bronllys Hospital, Powys. Through funding agreed with The Big Lottery Fund, petitioned by the Powys Patients' Council, originally facilitated by Powys Mental Health Alliance and now developed and managed by Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO), the new Centre (also known as the Quiet Room) opened its doors.

Powys Wellness and Recovery Centres aim to reinforce and develop people’s strengths. The new Centre will provide a peaceful and relaxing place where books and online information, supporting learning about our mental health, wellbeing and recovery, can be accessed by patients on the ward.

My colleague Freda Lacey, who has been key in liaising with the many different agencies involved in the project, told me more about the Centre:

"The room or centre has been under development for some time and patients, volunteers, ward staff and other agencies, which have been linked with the Lottery funded DIY Futures project, have all contributed to helping shape and develop the room. Match funding was contributed by The League of Friends and the Felindre Legacy Trust (charitable funds donated to the hospital) to help outfit the room with new flooring, and furniture. Books promoting recovery, people’s stories or lived experiences of living with mental distress, information on medication and other useful resources have been purchased for the room. Two laptops with internet access have been provided for patients in order to help with accessing online information such as local support groups and/or community mental health wellness and recovery learning centres. Training will be provided on how to use the laptops for writing and self-support."

L - R: Mel Evans (Chairman Powys teaching Health Board), Philip Bowen (High Sheriff of Powys)
Mel Evans, Chairman of Powys teaching Health Board, and Philip Bowen, the High Sheriff of Powys, opened the Centre to a packed corridor of invited guests. These included patients and staff on the ward, other mental health professionals, representatives from Bronllys Hospital & Community League of Friends, the Felindre Legacy Trust, the Community Health Council, Powys Mental Health Alliance, Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations, and other voluntary sector mental health groups from across Powys.

Mel spoke to thank everyone, including the funders, for their contribution to the new Centre. Before they cut the ribbon and pronounced the Centre well and truly open, Philip read an extract from Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth to set the scene. Macbeth is seeking support from his doctor to ease his wife’s troubled mind:

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart? 

Therein the patient
Must minister to himself.

Philip then spoke about the DIY Futures book “it’s the inside that matters”, a book that has “had me in tears”, adding that when seeking recovery “what better way than painting or writing about your problems.” He read extracts from the book, adding that it was very apt for the hospital setting. Many of the current patients and visitors on the day, who had not seen the book before, received their own personal copy to read. Future patients will have access to the book in the new room – and all agreed that there could not be a more useful and apt legacy of the DIY Futures project.

Jane Cooke, previously the DIY Futures Project Manager until May of this year, (she is now back as a Mental Health Project Manager at PAVO) told us about the e-book version of “it’s the inside that matters”, the DIY Futures Stories Project book. Stocks of hardback copies of the book are now running low but anyone with internet access can now dip into the stories of the people who came into contact with the project during its five year life.

The grand opening - visitors take a look around
L - R: Carla Rosenthal, (Powys Mental Health Alliance Magazine Editor), Penny Price (Ward Manager, Felindre Ward, Bronllys Hospital), Terry Hurford (Trustee Bronllys Hospital & Community League of Friends)
Visitors and patients also took the opportunity to look at some of the artwork from the DIY Futures book which was temporarily on display. Other artwork on the walls had been produced by the art group at Brecon & District Mind. The ward patients had created an amazing “recovery tree” with colourful leaves and inspiring words:
  • Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.
  • The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.
  • Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a song bird will come.
  • Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.
  • Make your optimism come true.

L - R: Bill Fawcett (Vice Chair, Powys Mental Health Alliance), Andrew Hopkins (Senior Nurse, Mental Health Specialist Services, Aneurin Bevan Health Board)
L - R: Paul, Jill Dibling.
Browsing the bookshelves I found many other books and flyers available to the patients. To mention just a few – Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world, the British Medical Association Concise Guide to Medicine and Drugs, Trauma & Recovery by Judith Herman, A Straight Talking Introduction to the Causes of Mental Health problems, Living with Voices: 50 Stories of Recovery, The Rainbow Journal: For young people who self-injure, Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Panic. (Some of these books have already been reviewed on our blog – see links). There is also a comprehensive selection of Mind’s Information leaflets.

L - R: Jane Cooke (PAVO Mental Health Project Officer), Carl Cooper (PAVO Chief Executive Officer)
Terry Hurford (Trustee Bronllys Hospital & Community League of Friends), Kelvin Mills (Trustee, Powys Mental Health Alliance), Bill Fawcett (Vice Chair, Powys Mental Health Alliance)
Jan Chilton (Ponthafren Association 1-1 Worker)
On the day people reminisced a bit about the past, about the old Mid Wales Hospital, how life used to be for patients there, on the recent past when the room now housing the Wellness and Recovery Centre used to be a table tennis room. But the overall sense was of hope and optimism for the future – a future made better for patients on Felinde Ward by the creation of a new quiet space just for them.


  1. Great blog post and all the best with your new Wellness and Recovery Learning Centre!

    I loved the Macbeth quote and the leaf poem about a glow worm. Very funny and true, Chrys

    1. Hi Chrys

      Thanks for commenting! Yes, Macbeth and a glow worm poem. Perfect for a lovely day at Bronllys Hospital. It was a treat to be there.


  2. Great blog post and some lovely pics, any chance we could have copies of a couple of them please? It was great to see the old 4 bedded ward put to valuable use, although this does remind us of the lessening number of acute beds available in Powys now, which is not so good..... well done to all those involved in setting up the room and we loved the tree :)

    1. Hi Jane

      I've just emailed the photos over. Glad you and Jan enjoyed the day - and it's really interesting to get feedback on here - so thanks and keep commenting everyone!


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