The Mill, St Catherine’s Park

The division successfully delivered the renovation of the disused barn on the site of the old 19th century cotton mill in the grounds of St Catherine’s Hospice.

Gallery (click on an image to view a larger version)

We worked closely with Architects, Cassidy + Ashton to create The Mill, a new venue with café, information, informal therapy, activities such as yoga and meeting rooms available for community use. The facility also offers a small sensory garden, a wetland and woodland reserve.

The Mill provides a relaxed place for current patients, discharged and potential patients, families, bereaved relatives, volunteers, supporters and the public. A key objective for The Mill is to help dispel common fears and myths about hospice care and the building is designed to feel non-medical and 'normal', which is what many of the Hospice patients wish for.

Information and light-touch therapies offered at The Mill assist people in self-managing their situations as much as possible and help people become more aware of how to look after friends and neighbours experiencing life-shortening illness. With fewer public services available, St Catherine's appreciate that communities need to pull together more than ever so The Mill was developed as an accessible community resource that will also support Lancashire's 'Connecting for Life' initiative.

Funded largely by grants and special awards, The Mill will operate as a social enterprise and create an innovative model for peer oriented, hospice backed support. It is also part of St Catherine's sustainability plan because it will encourage new people to become involved in their work as supporters and volunteers, as well as generating vital new income for the charity to fund its valued services.

It was clear from the earliest briefing with the client, St Catherine's Hospice that achieving separation between The Mill and existing hospice services was a key aim of the project. While traditionally hospice services require pre-appointments and referrals, the vision for The Mill was to ensure that it becomes a true community resource open to all users in need of support. As a result, an informal, drop-in centre style layout remained at the heart of the design and build process.

Eric Wright Construction and Cassidy + Ashton are both Lancashire businesses, so our involvement in creating such an inspiring facility is also an investment in our local community. The new venture breaks down the barriers and sense of isolation that hospice patients sometimes feel. Although its value is quite modest in monetary terms, it is a truly inspirational project with significant social value that far outweighs the project cost. Fundraising is particularly tough for the Hospice at this the time and The Mill will help to attract new sponsors and generate the £millions that St Catherine's needs to care for local people facing cancer, motor neurone disease and other life-shortening illnesses.

The Mill project provided us with the opportunity to inject a sense of innovation and creativity into a long-established charity and, from start to completion, it was an exceptional team effort from all the delivery partners. Construction work included demolition, installation of a new roof, window, disabled lift access to the first floor; erection of block walls, partitions, MF and suspended ceilings; internal decoration, feature oak beams, new kitchen fit out, as well as vinyl, floor tiling and carpet floor finishes.

The centre signposts individuals and their families to information, advice and services, promoting independence and boosting wellbeing. It has been designed with both the practical and emotional needs of users in mind, with the flexibility to enable them to use it in whatever way is of most value to them. For example, people may choose to access information via the centre's iPads using the Wi-Fi connection, share experiences with other users over a coffee or chat privately with an on-site advisor.

The multi-purpose social hub also ensures that the centre is a focal point for community engagement, improving the local infrastructure for activities, offering services for local businesses and enabling local people to experience the supportive environment of a hospice setting, even if they are not affected by illness.


Client: St Catherine's Hospice

Location: Preston

Completion: November 2014

Value: £820k