05 March 2010
Children in Jersey will be able to access the help and care they need following a ministerial decision that the Brig-y-Don Building is to be leased from the Brig-y-Don charity by the Health and Social Services Department (HSSD) for the next decade.
It is expected that the lease will be signed in the next 2 weeks, subject to the formal approval process being completed. The decision, which was signed off this week, has been welcomed by Health and Social Services Minister Anne Pryke.
It means that the first steps can now be taken to ensure that the building can be used to create a centre for vulnerable children following its closure in summer 2009. The building will be used to care for children as part of the urgent Williamson recommendations.
Speaking about the building, Deputy Anne Pryke said, "I am delighted that after a long time, there is now certainty for Brig-y-Don's future. The good work that the trust has done for all these years is recognised, and we will continue to make Brig-y-Don a place for vulnerable children who need care and help."
Sad and difficult time
Chairman of Brig-y-Don, Susie Pinel, said she welcomed the news that the future of the Brig-y-Don building was safe after a long and protracted period of uncertainty, and that the charity could begin to move forward.
"It has not been an easy time," said Mrs Pinel, "There have been many years of negotiation to reach this stage. It was very upsetting to see the home close last year due to a lack of States funding, and to re-home the 9 children who lived there, and to have to make 16 members of staff redundant.
"I hope now that after what has been a very sad and difficult time, that Brig-y-Don will find a new lease of life. It is very pleasing to us that the Brig-y-Don building will continue to be a home for children, which it has been for over 80 years.
"It is so important to the committee that children who might not have had a good start in life have the opportunity to live in such a lovely place, a warm, comforting environment, with all the care that they need with a large garden and a seaside location. Such an ethos is critical to the values of the charity," added Mrs Pinel.
Redevelopment and refurbishment of the building
The Health Minister added, "Plans are currently underway to ensure that the building can be refurbished so it can be used properly by the department, and is fit for purpose. We see the role of Brig-y-Don as an essential one. Finishing the refurbishment project at Brig-y-Don is a high priority for us, and we are pleased that it will be used to play such an important role in the future.
"There was a pressing need following the Williamson report to develop those services immediately. We are pleased to be able to rent Brig-y-Don from the charity, and redevelop it to suit our needs, so we can get on with the crucial work around child issues in Jersey.
"The building will still be owned by the charity Brig-y-Don, but it will be leased to Health and Social Services. The building will be leased on behalf of HSSD by Jersey Property Holdings."
Refurbishment plans and costs
The plans currently being considered would mean that the building could provide a home for both younger and older children with varying needs, and would also mean that some older siblings could live together. 6 residential care beds could be provided, as well as 2 bedsit units.
It is estimated that the refurbishment work to Brig-y-Don will cost approximately £650,000, with furniture estimated to be approximately £20,000. HSSD will pay approximately £50,000 per year to the charity Brig-y-Don for the use of the building.
Acting Chief Officer of HSSD Richard Jouault added, "We constantly look for ways to improve the service we offer to children, and it is good that the Brig-y-Don building will play such an important part in this. Our need to develop these services is urgent, and we want to be in a position to be able to use Brig-y-Don as soon as possible."