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Residential treatment centre project completed

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The completed transformational living centre at St James Rectory in Somerset (Photograph supplied)

The renovation and conversion of St James Rectory into a transformational living centre has been completed.

Working together with the Anglican Church and the Bermuda Hospitals Board, Habitat for Humanity has transformed the derelict Somerset facility into a state-of-the-art centre.

The purpose-designed facility and enhanced programmes will provide treatment for psychiatric patients and contribute to the ultimate closure of the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.

Sheelagh Cooper, who chairs the board of Habitat for Humanity of Bermuda, said: “The primary goal of Habitat for Humanity is to address the need for affordable, adequate and safe housing in Bermuda.

“In that connection, Habitat has completed over 200 projects since its inception in 2000. One of our concerns has been the availability of housing for underserved populations.

“Our 2022 project, the Transformational Living Centre for Families, addressed the housing population of mothers and their children as we completed a purpose-designed facility to house ten families in Pembroke. The project was a partnership between the Women’s Resource Centre, the Pembroke Parish Council and Habitat.

“More recently, we have turned our attention to another vulnerable and underserved population — those facing the challenges of mental illness. Currently, best practices in the field of mental health treatment calls for a move from a large institutional setting to smaller, community residential settings for those requiring in-home treatment.

“It was with this in mind that Habitat stepped forward and partnered with St James Anglican Church and rebuilt the old and largely derelict St James Rectory in Somerset [called Bridge House] to become a purpose-designed treatment centre for patients moving out of the near-derelict MWI.”

The facility will continue to be owned by the Anglican Church, and will be operated and staffed round the clock by Bermuda Hospitals Board staff.

While the cost of the project was originally estimated to be in the millions, it was accomplished by Habitat for less thanks to the help of more than 100 volunteers and the donations from building suppliers.

Sheelagh Cooper, chairwoman of Habitat for Humanity (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ms Cooper added: “The project was not without its challenges, as a listed building. We were very respectful of the original structure and appearance, which complicated the planning process, which ultimately took almost eight months.

“As with any renovation of an old structure, we encountered numerous surprises which included a need for a new pit, replacement of multiple beams as well as major termite tenting.

“The result is a welcoming and purpose-designed residence set on acres of beautiful property reaching down to the water and overlooking Somerset Bridge.”

The project was financed by dozens of local and international companies, and individuals.

Habitat is an all-volunteer organisation with no paid staff and limited overheads. Its office space is rent-free and the Habitat ReStore on Front Street helps to contribute financing.

Ms Cooper added: “With a very active board, including architects, lawyers, realtors, entrepreneurs and project managers, much of our work is accomplished in-house.”

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Published June 05, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated June 05, 2024 at 7:59 am)

Residential treatment centre project completed

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