National Star at the ‘cutting edge’ thanks to the addition of its latest accommodation block

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National Star at the ‘cutting edge’ thanks to the addition of its latest accommodation block

National Star is using the latest smart technology to enable young people with complex disabilities and learning difficulties develop their independence skills.

The Cheltenham-based charity officially opened its ambitious £6.2 million specialist residence at its campus in Ullenwood.

National Star supporters Jack Thorne and Rachel Mason opened the Building a Brighter Future buildings in front of invited guests, staff and students.

“A lot of places use terms like life-changing, very few live up to it,” said Jack Thorne. “National Star is a place that hinges on freedom and these new buildings today are a prime example of the excellence of that creed. They are using technology to further release further the individual brilliance of these students and residents here.”

Last month, students moved into Bradbury House and Scott House which are designed to fully meet their complex needs and enhance their learning.

Each of the 13 bedrooms, which includes the Ingram Discovery Rooms (independence and assessment suite), have specialist overhead tracking hoists and ensuite facilities ensuring that privacy and dignity is maintained for those with high levels of personal care needs. There are wide corridors that can easily accommodate large electric wheelchairs ensuring everyone can easily move around their home.

The Ingram Discovery Rooms has been designed as a ‘smart house’ assessment suite and is equipped with a range of accessible AI equipment, from Alexa to a talking fridge.

The suite will support incoming student assessments and trial independent living as well as demonstrate what technology would enable students to live more independent lives. Then that technology can be fitted into their rooms so that they can learn to use it before leaving college.

Regional contractor Speller Metcalfe delivered the building, which follows the award-winning Bradbury Gardens in 2015 and two earlier successful projects on behalf of the charity:

“National Star is an exceptional place, and they continue to deliver exceptional facilities for their students,” said Andy Metcalfe, director and owner of Speller Metcalfe. “It has been fantastic to be working with so many of the previous project team members – all who have been absolutely committed to not only making this scheme a reality, but delivering the outstanding facilities that National Star is dedicated to providing at Ullenwood.”

The charity raised £3.1 million for the new development receiving a wide range of support from several trusts and foundations. These included some significant gifts from The Julia & Hans Rausing Trust, Edward Gostling Foundation, The MariaMarina Foundation, The Bradbury Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and St James’s Place Charitable Foundation. The remaining £3.1 million came from a legacy, the sale of the charity’s Gloucester accommodation, Elizabeth House, and a top-up from the charity’s reserves.

Peter Horne, Deputy Chief Executive at National Star, said: “We are enormously grateful to all those individuals, businesses, trusts, and foundations who have been so generous with their support. This new accommodation will improve the lives of young people with complex physical and learning disabilities and create stimulating spaces to live, learn and relax in, enabling them to get the most out of the life enhancing opportunities that National Star offers.”

The accommodation was designed by Cheltenham architects coombes:everitt and constructed by regional contractor, Speller Metcalfe.  Other businesses involved in the project included Burnley Wilson Fish, SF Planning, MHP Design, David Smith Associates, APA Construction Consultancy and Nuttall Engineering.

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