Liverpool charity opens new garden sanctuary to help people in recovery from addiction

A collaboration between Liverpool charity Transforming Choice and local business Baltic Bespoke has seen the development of a brand new space to support people who are struggling with addictions.

Thanks to funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation, Sefton Park-based Transforming Choice were able to commission Baltic Bespoke, which specialises in custom-made garden rooms, to design and build the huge new facility, in keeping with the conservation area location.

The charity, which mostly helps people overcoming alcohol dependency, says the garden room will change the way it offers much-needed services.

Transforming Choice is a detox and rehabilitation centre, providing 12-week residential programmes. It also has iChoose, a community programme where anyone in recovery can access extra ongoing support after treatment.

The two work side by side and iChoose programme coordinator Emma Wilkinson says they’ll both benefit from the new space.

She says: “The new garden room at the back of Transforming Choice is stunning and we’re going to be able to use the space in so many ways. iChoose can have arts and crafts workshops, drama group, holistic therapy, development meetings or just coffee and catch-ups in there. And for Transforming Choice, it gives us a place to bring the residents outside the house so they can have that different environment.”

Emma explains: “The iChoose programme is about community and friendship. A lot of people find they can’t go back to an old friendship group because their friends are still drinking or using, and some people have difficult dynamics with family, so this is about being with like-minded people and having a support network so you know you’re not on your own.”

For Francis Eades, who set up Baltic Bespoke at the start of lockdown, creating a large-scale garden room for the charity was a rewarding challenge.

“Transforming Choice originally reached out to us in April 2021 to come up with a design that gave them the space they needed but also bearing in mind that Sefton Park is a conservation zone,” he says.

“It was the biggest garden building we’ve ever done, it’s 10m wide x 6m deep, and we knew the project would have to go through planning and building control so there was a lot to consider.

“After over two years, it’s fantastic to see the space brought to life. Although we really will miss collaborating with the Transforming Choice team. We can’t wait to see all the ways they will use it!”

Baltic Bespoke’s business took off with the shift to working from home and people wanting to make the most of their outdoor space. Since then it’s kept on growing, working across the city region, north west and Wales, and the company has relocated to larger warehouse premises in Hunts Cross.

Most of their clients are homeowners or small businesses, so this was a different type of brief.

“We chose natural Canadian cedar cladding, which fits in with the building and surroundings of the park, and because they’re going to use it for outdoor performances in summer we put massive bifold doors on the front which can be opened-up fully. There’s also a storeroom for all their furniture and equipment and we made sure it was well insulated and had remote-controlled heating so it’s a usable building all year round.”

Francis says working with Transforming Choice was a great experience, so much so they’ve adopted the charity for a Christmas fundraising campaign.

“I was there on site for quite a lot of this project, and the thing that struck me was the residents, and how positive they were, even though obviously they’re going through a difficult time.

“When I handed over the keys, I stood in the garden and made sure I took loads of photos because this building is a big achievement for us. It’s certainly one we’re really proud of and hopefully it’s going to benefit hundreds of people.”

Click here to visit the Baltic Bespoke website.

Click here to visit the Transforming Choice website.

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