Camden opens £17 million Greenwood Centre
'The dream of many has come to fruition', says Camden Disability Action
01 March, 2019 — By Tom Foot
Service users join Oliver Greene, Camden Council leader Georgia Gould and Cllr Pat Callaghan at the launch of the Centre for Independent Living in Kentish Town
A CENTRE for disabled people – and run by disabled people – was officially opened in a modern “neighbourhood” building – 15 years after it was first proposed.
The Centre for Independent Living (CIL) in the new £17million Greenwood Centre, Greenwood Place, Kentish Town, has been set up to help disabled and deaf people lead more independent lives.
The centre brings advice services together under one roof and also has access to modern music and arts rooms, a kitchen, garden and a conference hall for events.
The CIL is run by the Camden Disability Action.
CDA chairman Oliver Greene said: “The dream of many has come to fruition and now we as disabled people with various disabilities – both visible and invisible – will have a one-stop shop for all.”
He added: “CDA will be running an information and advice hub, bringing activities and therapies into the building, and engaging with all disabled people. There will be training, volunteering and campaigning.”
The CIL dream was first proposed back in 2004 as part of the new University College Hospital development in Euston.
More than £2.4million in Section 106 funding from the University College London Hospitals was supposed to fund a CIL in Camden, initially on the site of the former Odeon cinema in Tottenham Court Road.
The Town Hall said this week said the Greenwood CIL had been funded by UCLH and the Town Hall’s Community Investment Programme.
The main Greenwood building is the new centralised home for thousands of people with learning disabilities and mild to severe mental health conditions across Camden.
It replaced several day centres and services across Camden that were controversially closed and moved out of individual buildings into rooms in the new Greenwood development.
Tony Fisher, who used the Highgate Mental Health Day Centre before it was shut down, described the replacement facilities as an “appallingly inappropriately sized shoe box” that would not be able to cope “with the massive demands of the huge numbers of long-term seriously mentally unwell” in Camden.
He added: “The Greenwood service is going to grind to a total stop very soon. The staff are totally overwhelmed and exhausted. The tiny area is claustrophobic and is already causing arguments and disturbances.”
The overhaul of day centre services was first proposed in 2011 and the building was originally earmarked to open in 2014.
Rafael Soza, who suffers from depression and anxiety, said the CIL would help “you structure”, adding: “I help support the men’s group, where we talk about different topics and issues. It’s like therapy.”
Councillor Pat Callaghan said: “We believe that everybody in Camden should be able to live a healthy, active life and remain as independent and connected as possible.”