Monday 17th July 2016

St Ann’s Hospital

located opposite Chestnuts Park, on the border of West Green & Harringay in Haringey, north London.

The Metropolitan Asylums Board purchased the site where St Ann’s Hospital now stands in October 1892. It was known as The North Eastern Fever Hospital and was used to treat patients suffering from fever and diphtheria. Building work on the Administration Block began in 1898 and construction of the laundry began the following year. The original Works Department was built in 1907 and the “old” boiler house in 1912. Also built around the turn of the century were Block 6, Acacia House (as a residence for the Hospital Engineer), Mulberry House (the Steward’s home) and Orchard House for the superintendent.

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Walking In Memphis

Marc Cohn

Put on my blue suede shoes and
I boarded the plane
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain

W.C. Handy
Won’t you look down over me
Yeah, I got a first class ticket
But I’m as blue as a boy can be

Then I’m walking in Memphis
I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel?

I saw the ghost of Elvis on Union Avenue
Followed him up to the gates of Graceland
Then I watched him walk right through

Now, security did not see him
They just hovered round his tomb
But there’s a pretty little thing
Waiting for the King
And she’s down in the jungle room

When I was walking in Memphis
I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel?

Now, they’ve got catfish on the table
They’ve got gospel in the air
And Reverend Green, be glad to see you
When you haven’t got a prayer
But boy you got a prayer in Memphis

Now, Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
She said, “Tell me are you a Christian, child?”
And I said, “Ma’am, I am tonight!”

Walking in Memphis
I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel?

Walking in Memphis
I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel?

Put on my blue suede shoes and I
Boarded the plane
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain

Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain

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In April 2013 a crowd of patients and health care professionals congregated at the base of the Victorian Water Tower near the psychiatric ward of St Ann’s hospital, Haringey, to honour the achievement of Tamara Capellero; a local artist whose notable career in sculpture spans some thirty years.

Tamara’s Arts and Mental Health forum, held in recognition of her ground-breaking Arts Council backed project, facilitating the on-going recovery of severely ill mental health patients through creative workshops, was hailed as an unmitigated success by attendees Juliet Lyon, head of the Prison Reform Trust and Maria Kane, Chief Executive of Barnet, Enfield and Haringey NHS Trust.

Her success in leading the project is all the more remarkable because Tamara herself has been a Mental Health service user for the past thirteen years.

More remarkable still, perhaps, is the way in which, a year on from the forum, the project has been allowed to slide into ruin by the same health authority whose most vulnerable patients have benefitted so much from it, along with the magnificent building in which it was housed.

From the day of her release from detention under section, thirteen years ago, Tamara became a woman on a mission: “I was teaching at Central St Martin’s School of Art when I got sectioned. It was a typical Psych’ ward in Tottenham, the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. No way of leaving. No-one to invite you to a writing or drawing class. I felt like I’d landed in hell. That experience led to my work in prisons.”

In 2001 Tamara applied for funding from the Arts Council and began teaching classes at Pentonville prison with suicidal and self-harming inmates. This was the genus of what eventually became the ‘Walking the Wire Well’ project.

In 2009 Tamara received £11,000 from the Arts Council to work with patients at St Ann’s making a site specific sculpture. None of the grant awarded was income for Tamara herself; instead it went to buying high quality art materials and paying skilled professionals to lead workshops in music, circus, poetry, knitting, gardening and tree work, as well as funding social events for patients offering healthy food and live music.

“We did drawings of Sam […Hague – a graduate of the Hoxton Circus School] as he performed on a slack-rope rigged between two trees. Then we needed to find a building that was good for me to make the sculpture and lead more workshops.”

Tamara saw the potential of the dilapidated Water Tower near the quiet eastern boundary of the hospital site: built in 1889, four storeys high, surrounded by grass and crowned with a massive water tank; it was an ideal alternative to the coldly clinical interior of the Psychiatric wards. Following a risk evaluation by Health and Safety, Tamara set about restoring the building and buying high quality art materials, often dipping into her own personal finances when she couldn’t stretch the budget to accommodate their requirements.

She completed the sculpture in 2011 and, with an allocation from the hospital of £120 per month in place of the Arts Council funding which expired with the installation of the work, managed to continue leading the workshops until October 2013, largely due to the voluntary efforts of front-line staff and what is left of the occupational health team following drastic cuts made by the local NHS Trust board, the majority of which is composed of specialists in finance with no clinical background.

The Occupational Health Department, required to lead safely all off-ward activities ranging from arts projects to gymnastics, gardening and cookery, has been systematically dismantled over recent years. What was an eight strong team in a specially designated part of the hospital has been reduced to a mere two, dealing with an average of sixty patients. The Department no longer exists.

Tamara is in no doubt as to the negative effect these cuts have had on her borough:

“Government is trying to make cuts throughout the NHS but when you’re talking about mental health it’s creating a situation that is causing people to jump off my local bridge.”

The bridge over Archway Road is notorious among locals, having earned the dubious nickname ‘Suicide Bridge’.

“These may be people…” she continues, “…who have recently been discharged from St Ann’s or people who are on leave and technically still inpatients. Staff are under great pressure to discharge patients into the community as rapidly as possible to cut costs. Vulnerable people just can’t get the help they so badly need.”

In January of this year, the Care Quality Commissioner conducted a major inspection of the inpatient wards at St Ann’s, resulting in an enforcement order. The findings highlighted three main areas of concern:

1) Not enough beds resulting in the use of seclusion rooms, giving highly vulnerable patients insufficient access to staff.

2) Some patients did not know that they were no longer under section and were free to leave.

3) Patients complained that there were not enough activities and many that were scheduled did not take place.

In October 2013 the final blow came to the ‘Walking the Wire Well’ project, when Tamara arrived at the Water Tower to find the new water tanks on the top floor had burst, destroying hundreds of artworks entrusted to her by patients, and rendering the building too unsafe for continued use.

Despite her sending numerous emails to relevant departments, including an appeal to the Trust Board, no effort has been made to relocate the project or compensate the patients for the inevitable distress this has caused, not least to Tamara Capellero herself, who might have expected more from an institution to which she has given so much of her time and energy, in spite of her own crippling illness.

With the site upon which the Water Tower stands earmarked for sale in an effort to make up the deficit in Barnet, Enfield and Haringey’s depleted budget, prospects are bleak. The Water Tower, once a hive of activity and a pillar of strength for some of our society’s most vulnerable people to draw upon, will stand empty until it falls.

Archway Road, on the other hand, could be about to get a whole lot busier.

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The Metropolitan Asylum Board was liquidated in 1929 and the hospital came under the administration of London County Council in 1930. Soon after, the structure of the NHS in England and Wales was established by the National Health Service Act 1946 and St Ann’s fell under the control of the North East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board and Tottenham Hospital Management Committee. The hospital was renamed St Ann’s General Hospital in 1949 or 1950.

From 1982 it has been the responsibility of Haringey Health Authority.

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One of Us

Abba

They passed me by, all of those great romances
You were, I felt, robbing me of my rightful chances
My picture clear, everything seemed so easy
And so I dealt you the blow
One of us had to go
Now it’s different, I want you to know

One of us is crying
One of us is lying
In her lonely bed
Staring at the ceiling
Wishing she was somewhere else instead
One of us is lonely
One of us is only
Waiting for a call
Sorry for herself, feeling stupid feeling small
Wishing she had never left at all

I saw myself as a concealed attraction
I felt you kept me away from the heat and the action
Just like a child, stubborn and misconceiving
That’s how I started the show
One of us had to go
Now I’ve changed and I want you to know
One of us is crying
One of us is lying
In her lonely bed
Staring at the ceiling
Wishing she was somewhere else instead
One of us is lonely
One of us is only
Waiting for a call
Sorry for herself, feeling stupid feeling small
Wishing she had never left at all
Never left at all

Staring at the ceiling
Wishing she was somewhere else instead
One of us is lonely
One of us is only
Waiting for a call

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