Work has begun on the first phase of the new community-focused facilities at Fleetwood Hospital. The Pantry will be built within the North Albert Street and Pharos Street corner of the building and house services such as the amalgamated Fleetwood Foodbank and the Mustard Seed, now ‘Faith in the Community’, which will provide food on a weekly basis to individuals and families in need.
Planning permission was granted at the start of the year and structural work is now underway to reconfigure the space including a new shopfront, reception, meeting rooms and offices. It is expected the new facility will open in May this year.
The development of The Pantry has come about through the partnership of two local faith-based groups offering assistance to Fleetwood residents.
Canon John Hall from St Peter’s said, “We are really excited and looking forward to working together and relocating our food provision into the new purpose-built space within the building.”
Primarily the project will support single people and families in distress as a result of redundancy, illness, debt, adverse changes or a delay in benefits including those who have been sanctioned. Other reasons for people needing to make use of The Pantry are homelessness and family breakdown.
Canon Alf Hayes from St Wulstan’s & St Edmund’s added, “We hope it will be of great help to the whole town’s effort to breathe new life into our lovely Fleetwood, which has been so disadvantaged in recent years”.
The options for further community facilities within Fleetwood Hospital include additional meeting rooms where residents can attend groups, learn new skills or access services; a quiet space for reflection and comfort; a business incubator where entrepreneurs in the town can network and develop new businesses creating jobs; and youth facilities.
The existing NHS outpatients service will remain within the building and discussions are ongoing to incorporate an intermediate care ward operated by the NHS for patients leaving Victoria Hospital but not well enough to go home.
Fleetwood Hospital was purchased from previous owners, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in November 2018 for £575,000. The initial funding, the cost of essential repairs to the building’s roof and to install solar panels has been covered by anonymous donations while a public appeal last year raised funds that contributed to the cost to replace all of the 162 windows on the site with energy-efficient units. Fundraising in now underway for additional structural work and the installation of a new power plant that will allow the Fleetwood Trust to develop the Community Hub to provide facilities recommended by and for the benefit of the community. The hub will consist of a large community space with a café, kitchens and connected outdoor garden space.