Shropshire’s first “Hub” devoted to hearing- and communication-related services
Everyone here at Signal is anticipating the shop-fitters coming in and starting on our new HUB this week and I am looking forward to watching its progress from chrysalis to butterfly.
The space is large, open and rather empty at the moment.
Full of promise, a bit like a blank page just waiting to be drawn on, what will the finished image be?
Wednesday 30th September:
We have lift off. The shop-fitters have arrived today and began moving in the first elements of our fit-out. As I stand in the open space there is a hive of activity all around me as all the timbers for the stud walls and a large stack of plasterboard arrive. For my first week with Signal as Hub Manager this is all very exciting, equipment, tools, and materials are all here, just sit waiting for the action to start.
Friday 2nd October:
As I arrive at the HUB the today I can see the HUB starting to take shape. Stud walls stand like an open labyrinth along the back of the HUB inviting me to step through the spaces where walls will eventually form a solid barrier. I can feel the elements of the shop-fit starting to come together and now see the paper plans growing into a solid structure.
There is a lot of interest from people passing the front of the shop, with many stopping to see what is going on. The whole mall is coming to life with different users.
Each day seems to bring on a new perspective to the Hub, today I can see the builders are fixing plaster to the framework, the whole space is in organised chaos. I can start to visualise where desks and furniture will be placed and can give some thought to how we will decorate the space.
A big note of thanks at this point goes to the generous support from Shropshire County Council, who are donating surplus furniture to Signal for the project. Rob Jones, Property Operations Manager for the Council has been able to source desks and other items for The Hub.
Our other partners are also starting to get excited by the changes. Heather and Cheryl who will have the ‘Links Café’ in the HUB have started to think about their space and we are working together to ensure we have a pleasant spot to drop in for a cup of tea and coffee.
Thursday 9th October:
The Electricians and IT crew are in today and the whole place is abuzz with workers. It’s a bit like watching an intricate choreographed piece as everyone moves around the HUB completing their allotted tasks.
By the end of the day we have wires sitting in quiet anticipation waiting for the final fit-out when all the walls, skirting and decorating are completed. The ceiling lights have been moved to suit the room configuration and I can start to appreciate what has been achieved in such a short space of time.
We had a visit from Ruby Hartshorn (pictured below) from Shropshire Disability Network this afternoon and we were able to talk about what we hoped to achieve with the HUB and give her a brief overview of the work so far. We have made sure that access within the HUB is user friendly for all and a comfortable area to move around.
Friday 10th October:
It’s a day to take stock of the past week and a half’s frenetic work in the HUB. I can see the main form of the place now, though one room is still to be plaster boarded.
I have a meeting here today with Andy Bleach from Shropshire Sensory Impairment Team to show him the venue and discuss working together in the Hub.
I stand in what will be our reception area and can see we are moving ever closer to completion. What we need now are volunteers who will help us prepare for opening in November! If there is anyone out there who is interested in volunteering at the HUB or would like some more information about the opportunities we will have there please contact me and we can meet to talk about our new venture. We will be holding an information day there to let potential volunteers know more about what we hope to do at the HUB, answer questions and have a chance to chat informally to everyone.
Monday 13th October:
More deliveries today, plasterboard for the second skin of the walls and huge bags of soundproofing insulation to go inside the walls.
There is ebb and flow of materials filling the space, rather like a tide, one moment the whole HUB is full of building materials and they decrease as they are used, only to be replaced by the next batch.
All the rooms will be insulated to help to reduce sound so that the Audiologists and others who use them will have a specially designed quieter space to do their assessments in.
We will also be installing a specialist audiology booth provide by the NHS Audiology Department so that hearing tests are undertaken in a controlled environment.
Things are moving more steadily now as we complete the work on and in the rooms. While off site we source equipment and furniture to complete the HUB.
Tuesday 14th October:
I managed to source some free carpets today for our back of house area in the HUB and have earnt the nickname ‘Womble’ for my resourcefulness. I’m sure that is a term of endearment from my colleagues!
The second skin of plaster-boarding is going onto the walls today to help control sound in all the rooms in the HUB. You now get a real feel for the shape of our new centre, with the reception and café area looking very bright and airy.
Wednesday 15th October:
The insulation is being cut and packed into the wall spaces, and two rooms have been completed today, another step closer in the build.
I have now got to start thinking about how we will decorate, furnish and lay out the main foyer area. Will it be big colourful fabric prints on the walls, or paintings and pictures of our projects. As I mentioned at the start of this blog, it’s a blank page, or should I say, palate.