Olympic hero Sir Steve Redgrave CBE opens Saffron House, High Wycombe.

Five-time Olympic medal winner and Marlow-resident Sir Steve Redgrave CBE "blown away" as he officially opened Saffron House – the new South Buckinghamshire Mental Health Hub in High Wycombe.

Olympic hero Sir Steve Redgrave CBE opens Saffron House, High Wycombe.

It was laughter and celebration all round as Olympic hero and Marlow-resident Sir Steve Redgrave CBE officially opened Saffron House – the new South Buckinghamshire Mental Health Hub in High Wycombe.

Opening the hub Sir Steve said he was blown away with the facilities on offer – urging people to reach our for support with their mental health if they need it.

Sir Steve enjoyed a tour of the hub, calling in to speak to teams and find out about the work they do to support and care for local people. He visited  teams including Adult Crisis and Home Treatment, the Adult and Older Adult Community Mental Health Team, Child and Adolescent Mental Health teams and Continuing Healthcare. Steve also heard about the work of Oxford Health Charity and Artscape.

Sir Steve said: “The space here at Saffron House is just amazing – it blew me away.

“It’s a building that I know reasonably well from functions here before but I’ve never been back of house. I was expecting very high quality but it is above my expectations and the people involved, after listening to them and the jobs they do and the involvement in the community, it’s just so special.”

He went on to urge people to reach our for mental health support if they need it.

He said: “Mental health is something people can now talk about, can talk freely about how you are really feeling and all sorts of different circumstances. I think that’s why we’re seeing more and more people coming forward, which has got to be a good thing.

“I have a number of conditions and have had mental issues in the past. The hardest thing is to make that step of asking for help. Don’t hesitate about it. Getting involved and coming along to a place like this, or asking to be referred to a place like this, and being able to talk about it is half the pressure instead of bottling it away. There may not be an issue there, it could be something completely different, why not go check it out and make sure and deal with whatever issues come up and you’ll be in such a better place for it.”

The move to Saffron House in June earlier this year brought together mental health services and team within a one-mile radius along with Continuing Healthcare. It is a modern facility and will support provision of better integrated quality service to the adults and young people in the south of the county, with care delivered in a fresh, modern environment.

The hub has been co-created with people who use mental health services and staff in South Buckinghamshire and sustainability was placed at the heart of the building’s redesign

Service-users, staff and the local community were involved in the development of the hub and chose the name of the building, and artwork by people who use services is on display.

The name Saffron House was proposed following discussion with the High Wycombe Society to mark the local link to the saffron trade.

Symbolising healing and love, saffron’s gold threads are rooted in High Wycombe and surrounding history. Saffron is a precious spice that comes from the dried stamens of the crocus flower. The chalky north east slopes of the Wycombe valley were once a saffron-drying district, acknowledged in the names Saffron Platt and Saffron Road.

Saffron House has strong ‘green credentials’ with low energy lighting, cycling bays and a plan for e-vehicle charging points. Energy efficient LED lighting reduce the building’s energy consumption by 70 per cent and our carbon footprint by 24 tonnes. Staff were also invited to join the NHS Green Community. Internal planting enhances the building’s environment and acts as a natural air purifier as well as creating a connection with nature which supports both health & wellbeing for all. And an external landscaping and biodiversity project will be undertaken thanks to funding from support of Oxford Health Charity and the generosity of community volunteers.

Buckinghamshire’s mental health services are provided by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Joining Steve at the ceremony were chair of the trust David Walker, chief executive Nick Broughton, Buckinghamshire service director Donna Clarke and Saffron House staff ambassador Yvonne Chapel-Mtunzi.

Chief executive Nick Broughton said: “It is a delight to be able to welcome Sir Steve Redgrave CBE to officially open Saffron House and share how mental health services in south Buckinghamshire are caring for and supporting local people.

“The hub was created with local people who use our services and, more than ever, enables us to place the people who we care for at the heart of what we do and continue to improve the services we provide.

“The creation of Saffron House also offered us a unique opportunity to focus on sustainability, choosing low energy and carbon emission lighting and reducing vehicle carbon emissions by improving access to public transport and enabling more people to cycle and walk to appointments and work.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging period for many and thrown into sharp focus the importance of caring for our mental health. By creating a south Buckinghamshire hub we are continuing to raise awareness of local service and the treatment and support that is available.”

Buckinghamshire Clinical Director Vivek Khosla said: “Saffron House offers us a unique opportunity to raise general awareness in the community and continue to reduce mental health stigma. It is conveniently located in town and by bringing together services for people of all ages colleagues are able to share expertise and knowledge to best support local people.

“It’s been a real pleasure to see colleagues building a community, getting to know one another and collaborating in the past few months and this event is an opportunity for us to gather and take a moment to reflect on just what we’ve achieved in recent months and opportunities which lay ahead.”

Yvonne Chapel-Mtunzi from the Chiltern Adult Mental Health Assessment & Treatment Team said: “Showing Steve Redgrave around and talking to him about what we do has just been so fantastic. It’s been such an exciting day and staff were really thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to him, to have a photograph and get his autograph. It really has been amazing.”


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Published: 9 November 2021