A £20M HEALTH and wellbeing community hub in the heart of Old Trafford is now open for business.

The Trafford Housing Trust Limelight development was officially opened on Thursday December 7, with renowned poet Lemn Sissay and Olympian Diane Modahl as VIP guests of honour.

Hundreds of Old Trafford residents, community groups, faith-leaders, school children, councillors, partners and VIPs joined Lemn and Diane to launch the building.

There was also saw a samba band, stilt-walkers and fire-dancers to entertain the crowd.

Many people attending took tours of the Limelight complex, on St. Brides Way, and got to experience the wide range of services and amenities which are now available under one roof.

These include:

· A new primary care centre (PCC) for North Trafford featuring two GP practices, plus specialist treatment rooms and services.

· A nursery for the under fives.

· A community library.

· An opticians.

· A pharmacy.

· A community café.

· A hair and beauty salon.

· Flexible activity and event spaces for leisure, cultural, corporate and fitness activities.

· Specialist facilities to tackle dementia and other conditions.

In addition, Limelight and NHS staff were on hand to tell people about the services set to be delivered by the PPC when fully operational.

These include maternity and post-natal support; chronic disease management; NHS health checks; a phlebotomy service; alcohol and smoking cessation; immunisation; cytology; podiatry and family planning advice.

Limelight will also be the base for district nurse and counselling services for North Trafford.

In addition, visitors got to hear about Limelight’s 81 Extra Care apartments designed for people who require assisted living, but still wish to live independently.

During the official opening ceremony, both Lenm and Diane talked about the design of Limelight, which had been in partnership with the local community, and how it was set to be an intergenerational space with regular activities designed to engage with young families, teenagers and older people.

The Hub’s role as an accessible, inclusive, multi-faith space, with a management committee drawn from across all of Old Trafford’s diverse communities, was also highlighted and celebrated in the speeches.

Edna Robinson, chairman of Trafford Housing Trust, and an advisor to the Department of Health on Commissioning, said: “Limelight has been designed in partnership with the local community to improve health and wellbeing for everyone in North Trafford.

"These will be delivered through both formal GP and NHS services being delivered via the new primary care centre, and through a more discreet ‘social prescribing’ approach where everyone linked to the Limelight hub will signpost visitors to beneficial activities and services.

“But in order to be truly effective, and to really start to address the serious issue of poor health in Old Trafford, we need to get people through the doors.

“This is why we have created an attractive and welcoming multi-purpose environment where families, young people and the elderly can all access a wide range of key services and high-quality amenities and facilities all under one roof.

“Our fabulous opening event showcased and celebrated what we’ve already achieved by building this unique integrated and intergenerational space from scratch, but now we are officially open the real work begins with regards to tackling inequalities in life expectancy, and other health related challenges, in this part of Greater Manchester."

David Teasdale, Limelight’s manager, said: “The launch event was a fantastic opportunity for the local community to come together, explore Limelight, try new activities, and meet community groups. It also let us demonstrate the wealth of activities and facilities we have on offer for both Limelight residents and visitors.

“I’m thrilled that Lemn Sissay and Diane Modahl both joined us as our guests of honour as they both represent the spirt and positivity of the Old Trafford community, and both their speeches were entertaining, inspirational and very moving.”  

A key theme of the launch event was Limelight’s role in improving the health of Old Trafford residents. The district faces a multitude of specific health challenges, with life expectancy being seven to eight years lower for all adults when comparing the most deprived areas of Old Trafford with the least deprived areas in the rest of the borough.

In addition to the Primary Care Centre, which will see the transfer of local GP services from Trafford’s Brooks Bar and Ayres Road surgeries in the New Year, all Limelight staff, volunteers and on-site service providers have been briefed to ‘signpost’ both residents and non-residents to the vast range of social activities, leisure classes, educational facilities, community advice, and health and wellbeing services, available throughout the Limelight hub.

For example, the community café will be working with a nutritionist to help develop food plans for people with special diets and will promote healthy eating; while the GP service will be able to suggest exercise classes hosted in Limelight for those patients who could benefit from them.

Similarly, the pharmacists and opticians will work together with the PCC to try and reduce the number of unnecessary appointments being made; while the hair and beauty salon staff will encourage customers to try out Limelight’s many social clubs and community activities.

This signposting approach (sometimes refereed to ‘social prescribing’), which involves qualified health practitioners working alongside other service providers to steer people towards physical, social and mentally-stimulating activities, has been found to help reduce many of the health and care issues faced by older, vulnerable and unhealthy people.

It has found to be especially effective when dealing with problems like mental health, obesity, social isolationism and dementia, directly reducing impact on health and social care services.