Friday, 10 December 2010


To the Towers, Gypsy Lane, this afternoon, for a meeting with Abida Hussain, Equality and Human Rights Officer with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust.

The possibility of a working relationship between Leicester Council of Faiths and the local health service was mooted at the first ever meeting of the Council of Faiths I attended after taking up this post. Back in July 2007, at that meeting where I was introduced to the members, Philip Parkinson (then Chair of the Primary Care Trust) and Tim Rideout (Chief Executive) were there to speak about recent changes in local health provision and the establishment of a Department of Equalities and Human Rights. From that time on, we’ve slowly spiralled around doing work for the Primary Care Trust (as it then was), then NHS Leicester City, and now Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. We do have a Service Level Agreement with them, but internal reorganisation and turnover of staff mean that we still haven’t really go this relationship in good order. The recent proposal of us supporting the "Faith Communities Health Champions" initiative has focused the need to straighten out our working arrangements.

At this late stage of the game, we're looking to show some quick wins, so Abida and I agree on a few pieces of work that could be done and dusted before Christmas.

I can't allow my account of this meeting to go by without saying a little bit about the Towers itself. It was founded in 1869 as the Leicester Borough Asylum, then served as the Towers Hospital (as it was rneamed in 1947) until its closure as a treatment facility in 2005. Without really knowing anything about it (or even where it was) I was aware of it from my earliest times living around here as a place with a grim reputation. Occasionally it would feature in unpleasant and unfortunate news stories in the local media. Having taught for a few years inside the mental health service, many of the clients I’ve worked with would freeze at the mention of it – whether or not they’d ever been inside it themselves.

When I came to my fist meeting here, a few years ago, the person who received me then remarked, as we walked through the long, echoing tiled corridors, that you just knew that this place was originally established as an asylum, not a hospital. Hard to put into words exactly why that was so, but it most certainly was.

For an unsual vew of the Towers, visit the Urban Exploration Forum.

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