The Soup Kitchen consultation room is AHMM’s first completed pro-bono project. Working closely with long-time client Derwent, AHMM has created a small mental health consultation room beneath an existing stair at The Soup Kitchen’s central London outreach centre on Tottenham Court Road. The Soup Kitchen is a busy and well-supported independent charity in London, providing critical support to homeless and vulnerable people.
Because of the extremely constrained site, the structure had to be constructed as three separate timber components that could be combined in situ to create the room. This approach also allowed the team to maximise the use of space under the stair.
The design intent was to create a welcoming and calm space that would allow those having consultations in the space to feel comfortable. Alongside offering mental health support, the space is also used to provide free GP and dentist appointments.
The fit out was delivered with the help of Stortford Interiors who provided the interior materials free of charge. The room is clad in birch ply, with coloured panels donated by Formica framing the shelving and the single circular window looking out to the kitchen beyond. The herringbone vinyl flooring was donated by Bolon, and the furniture was provided at cost by SCP and donated by AHMM.
‘One of the things that really stood out to me when I took over as Director in 2017 was the staggering number of our homeless friends struggling with their mental health. Indeed, according to many studies, as many as 80% of rough sleepers suffer from some form of mental health illness. When you understand that, it becomes easier to understand why it’s so difficult for many people who have become homeless to return to a more ‘normal’ living situation.
We decided to launch what would eventually become Europe’s very first drop-in mental health clinic within a soup kitchen. We aimed to address some of the core issues of homelessness and give our friends the ability and the confidence to change their circumstances by offering comprehensive mental health support. We recruited Dr Brett Grellier and his team from BGPS (Brett Grellier Psychology Services) as this is an area that he has worked extensively over the years. From the outset, it's been an arduous journey. Still, with the crucial help of Paul, Dupe, Rebecca & Helen from Derwent London, Simon and Becky, the incredible architects from AHMM & the hard work and determination from Tom and Iain from the Thornton Partnership and countless others, we have been able to relaunch our mental health clinic to serve the most vulnerable people in our community. In addition to unprecedented mental health support, our new office will also be used by a GP from a private practice on Harley Street and an NHS Dentist, both of whom are donating their time and expertise to help the most vulnerable people in our city. Tackling the homeless crisis takes a team effort and we are so fortunate to have such wonderful partners on our team. Thank you!’
Alex Brown, Director at the Soup Kitchen