Blue Forest built this innovative NHS woodland retreat to help vulnerable children at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury.

NHS Woodland Retreat

  • Blue Forest – Other

    Location: Lancashire

    Form of Contract: JCT Design & Build

    Blue Forest have recently completed work on an innovative NHS woodland retreat to help vulnerable children at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury. The Hope and Horizon NHS Woodland Retreat will provide a soothing and uplifting environment which will positively affect the users and form a natural oasis within the stark institutional environment of the hospital buildings.

    What is it?

    The retreat is the UK’s first treehouse-style mental health unit for 13-to 18-year-olds. The 40m2 urban lodge, built using sustainable resources, has been designed and built by Blue Forest.

    How does it help?

    The treehouse has been designed to provide young people with a safe and stimulating environment in which to play, relax and learn. As well as undergoing therapy, they will be able to complete school work, watch films and participate in nature-based activities.


    Six children and parents at any one time.


    Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust is funding the £178,000 development plus £100,000 from the Depart-ment of Health via the King’s Fund.

    The professional view

    “Our patients told us that they wanted something different and so rather than developing a traditional clinical building, we aimed to create a place that would really stimulate the young people who use it. The woodland setting around the site provided us with the inspiration to develop an urban treehouse which supports the therapeutic, educational and leisure needs of our patients.” Keith Walker, Specialist Services Director at Pennine Care

    “It was a great pleasure to be invited to officially open the Woodland Retreat. Pennine Care has acknowledged the needs of the young people it cares for by providing this alternative woodland area. I hope that it brings significant benefits to the young people who will use it and that it will help them to regain confidence in themselves.” HRH the Duke of Gloucester, The Kings Fund

    The success of the retreat has been proven by:

         • reducing the length of admissions by 10 days,
         • 65% reduction in the incidents of violence and aggression,
         • 8.5% reduction in self-harming incidents.

    Established in 2008 The Hope Unit is an acute psychiatric inpatient service for young people ensuring they receive the treatment they need in an age appropriate environment. The Horizon Unit, which opened in 2010, was developed to enhance Pennine Care’s ability to support young people with complex mental health problems. Between the two units there are 22 beds for young people aged 13-18, who receive treatment for a full range of complex mental health or psychiatric disorders.

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