As the Sycamore Unit at Northgate Park prepares to open we have buried a time capsule to mark the development of the state of the art facilities and also preserve the history of care provided at the site. The building is being developed for Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) and will look after up to 72 men with a mental illness, learning disability or personality disorders.
The time capsule was the brainchild of Fiona Kettle, Assistant Capital Projects Officer in the NTW Solutions Capital Team.
Fiona explained, “We hope to show people in the future just how much the care and treatment on this site for people with mental illness and learning disabilities has changed and improved over the years.
“We’ve included memorabilia from our celebration of 100 years of Learning Disability Nursing in 2019, some articles and documents which show how the COVID-19 pandemic affected our lives and work, and documents about CNTW’s newly-launched Carer Promise.
“When clearing out areas of the site which were decommissioned ahead of the new unit being built, we found some old documents which we’ve included too. There’s a copy of the Mental Health Act 1983, and even papers from a conference in 1968 titled ‘The Residential Treatment of Disturbed and Delinquent Boys’ – language which shows you how far we have come since then.
“There are lots of photographs of the site through the years. We also ran a competition for patients to include some artwork in the capsule, which was won by a gentleman who has received prizes for his photography in the past. He took lots of photos capturing the Northgate Park site as it looks today.”
To formally mark the burying of the capsule, staff were present who’ve worked on the new unit, from CNTW, NTW Solutions, and building contractors Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM). To mark the occasion James Duncan, Chief Executive of CNTW, said a few words thanking everyone involved in the ‘remarkable’ project.
The capsule will be located on the edge of the large central courtyard shared by the six wards which make up the Sycamore Unit. It ismarked with a circular granite plaque inscribed, “Buried in 2023, due to be opened in 2043.” It also bears a quote, “The past is the past, you can’t change it. All you can do is look forward to the future.”