Barnwood Trust launches its new base at Overton House to build belonging across Gloucestershire
Barnwood Trust employee, and ex-National Star student, Katie Peacock remembers life as a resident at Overton House in the 2000’s and shares her joy about seeing the space renovated and renewed as Barnwood’s welcoming and wheelchair accessible space to help bring people together.
A new base for Barnwood Trust
Making sure everyone feels they belong is at the heart of what Barnwood Trust does – a charitable foundation dedicated to creating the best possible environment in Gloucestershire for disabled people and people with mental health challenges to make the most of their lives.
Barnwood Trust recently celebrated its move to Overton House following a £4 million renovation project to overhaul the structure of the building and improve accessibility for the long term. The newly renovated four-storey house in the centre of Cheltenham is the new base for Barnwood Trust’s work across the county, and the doors are now open to visitors.
Memories of Overton House
Overton House was previously leased to the National Star College for student accommodation. Katie Peacock, now a member of the team at Barnwood Trust, was a resident back in the day. Speaking about her memories of life as a student at Overton House, Katie said: “Living here as a teenager and being away from home for the first time in the early 2000’s was exhilarating. I found myself at the centre of a bustling community and for the first time ever I had a front door that gave me independent passage to the wider world. This made me instantly fall in love with this place – crossing the threshold of this house will always make me smile.”
Katie Peacock said following the move: “Fast forward to 2019 and I am sitting in this beautifully renovated building. When I entered, I squealed with delight. It felt so warm and welcoming, like returning to an old and trusted friend after many years apart. I will always have an affinity with this place. I’m a disabled woman with aspirations to change things for the better; this is a building that says disabled people and people with mental health challenges deserve to be the best and most authentic versions of themselves. The future is ours.”
New lease of life
Overton House has undergone extensive improvements: re-building the rear extension to facilitate improved access; re-roofing and re-rendering the original building; gutting the building internally and installing a new lift to enable wheelchair accessibility in all parts of the building; and adding a new ramped access to the front of the building, a new car park and landscaped courtyard to the rear. Ferguson Mann Architects designed and oversaw the conversion, with quantity surveyors Mildred Howell. Project Architect, Nicola Lewis said: “The new design embraces ‘universal access’ throughout, creating a balance between arrival points and removing barriers within the building for visitors and staff alike. The outcome provides welcoming, spacious and clear access to the building.”
E G Carter & Co Ltd were the building contractors, Site Manager Adrian Gladwin said: “We have valued working closely with Barnwood Trust, together with Ferguson Mann Architects, Momentum Consulting Engineers and Method Consulting, on the refurbishment. We were able to incorporate a blend of modern and traditional styles by preserving some of the original features, which has given the new building an identity of its own.”
A welcoming space
The Trust’s newly adapted base in Cheltenham is in a central location with good public transport links, as well as offering wheelchair accessible meeting spaces that will be attractive, flexible and which will enable people to come together easily. At the heart of the building is a welcoming hub for people who visit the Trust – to learn new things, share ideas, work on projects, or simply to connect with others. Lawrence Miller from the Trust said: “Our vision for Overton House is a comfortable setting for all people who use the building, guests as well as the team. The first two floors will be a welcoming space for anyone to drop in for a chat, to find information or inspiration, to attend a workshop, meet with the Barnwood team or book the space for their own meetings. We want people to feel at home with us at Overton House.”
To find out more about Barnwood Trust’s new base, or to register your interest to book an accessible meeting room email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01242 539935.