North West care village operator Belong is celebrating welcoming the first residents to its newest state-of-the-art care village, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. The £13.5m development marks a new departure for the organisation, incorporating a one-of-a-kind heritage gallery and centre for world-leading dementia care.
Made possible by a £1.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the ‘Belong Heritage Gallery’ has been created by transforming Newcastle’s oldest building, which dates back to the mid 17th century and has variously been a pottery, a coaching inn and, most recently, a famous nightclub. It now incorporates reminiscence spaces inspired by the building’s past, including Samuel Bell’s Tea Room, named after a potter who once occupied the property, and a recreation of the Old Pomona Inn, which used to stand on the site.
Tracey Stakes, Chief Executive of Belong, said: “This has been a really exciting project for Belong, and we are delighted with the way old and new have been brought together.
“As far as we are aware, no other care provider has such a facility to complement its dementia care services, and it provides us with a unique opportunity to link the past and the present through people, their memories and a shared exploration of heritage. I’m absolutely delighted the public are getting to see the Belong Heritage Gallery for the first time.”
Vanessa Harbar, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands said: “We are delighted to support this project, which, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will bring a building back to serve the local community and provide skills and jobs as well as support to those with dementia.”