A new Arts, Health and Wellbeing Centre that will pilot ground-breaking therapies and interventions to improve community health and wellbeing is being planned for University of Gloucestershire’s new City Campus.

At the heart of this partnership project between One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System and the University is ‘The Store’. This will be a Centre of Excellence for new technologies and innovation aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of people in the county and complementing the care provided by NHS Health and Social Care partners.

With the University also in advanced discussions with Gloucestershire County Council about City Campus being the home to the new county library, the ambitious redevelopment of the former Debenhams store will see this much-loved building brought back to life. It will become a modern centre for teaching, learning and partnerships; delivering wide-ranging services to the local community and acting as a catalyst for the city’s regeneration.

Situated on the first floor of City Campus, ‘The Store’ will include specialist facilities and equipment that can support teaching and social prescribing use, such as arts-based therapy and rehabilitation; informed by research and healthtech innovation.

Services will help to meet the complex health and social care needs of people in Gloucestershire through:

  • Supporting people to keep healthy and look after themselves when they can
  • Making the most of new technologies and delivering intervention-based projects that improve outcomes and quality of care
  • Pioneering research that will support practice innovation and improvement, and the application of the latest health technologies
  • Providing the health workforce in Gloucestershire with exceptional learning and training opportunities.
  • Chief Executive of NHS Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (NHS Gloucestershire), Mary Hutton said: “We are thrilled to be involved in this truly pioneering initiative that highlights what can be achieved when partners share a passion and drive for improving health, wellbeing and care through innovation, collaboration and creative thinking.”

    “Not only will the Centre help to push the boundaries in new approaches to supporting people and communities to keep healthy and well, it represents a further huge boost to the work already being done to strengthen the health and care workforce in Gloucestershire for the future through unrivalled learning and training opportunities. We are confident that this great environment at the University will inspire, motivate and enhance the lives of everyone who uses it.”

    The wider partnership project will also see the University provide Continuous Professional Development to support recruitment, retention and upskilling of the NHS workforce and share best practice. It expands the existing partnership between the University and One Gloucestershire to design and deliver together a wide range of nursing and allied health degree programmes to meet the NHS’s needs for skilled and capable professionals.

    Lorraine Dixon, Head of School for Health and Social Care, said: “We expect ‘The Store’ to draw together great minds from practice, academia, researchers and Experts by Experience. Together, we will design creative solutions to challenging health and social care problems, and develop and showcase the evidence base to drive future service provision within the county, increasing impact.

    “Its services will complement and connect with other successful social prescribing models already running in the county. It will provide a less clinical environment in which to engage with practitioners, which is particularly important in engaging vulnerable communities.”

    University of Gloucestershire Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Marston, said: “City Campus is a fundamental part of the University’s mission as the community’s University. It is a great example of what we can achieve working with partners for the benefit of our city, our county and our region.

    “Our vision for the City Campus is that it is not just going to be a brilliant environment for our students and staff. At the heart of the city, it will also be a place that is open and accessible to the public, providing services people need. It will bring together health professionals, academics, students and researchers. Together they will develop professional skills and training for the future workforce. They will research how practice can be improved, and how new technologies can be applied.”

    The first staff and students – mainly from the School of Health and Social Care – are set to begin using the new teaching facilities during the academic year 2023-24. However, the University intends that ‘The Store’ will also open up opportunities for students and staff from other Schools, such as Arts, Creative Industries and Computing and Engineering.

    You can find the latest City Campus project news on the University’s City Campus webpage. Construction work is scheduled to begin on site in Summer 2022, with investigation, enabling and strip-out works already well underway.

    The redevelopment of the adjacent King’s Square is now almost complete and work is well advanced on The Forum – a mixed-use commercial development, including housing, a hotel, and office space designed to attract digital and tech companies.