We offered Student Placements to four Design Students from Napier University, and a local Interior Designer offered to help us. We called this group the ‘A-Team’ because they are the first team to work at Let’s Talk. Click on the link below to read about what the students are doing on the design project.
Once we have finished the design project, we will be raising money to start work on some new plans. We want to make sure our building does not harm the environment and easy for everyone to access, so we need to improve our differently-abled toilets. We also want to create a community café where we can offer work placements and training for young people who want to learn about catering.
We will be running a Crowdfunding campaign to raise money for this –
Calling all companies!
Get in touch if you are a construction company or local company that would like to be involved, to help us benefit our local community.
The Story So Far
Let’s Talk moved into its new premises on January 10th 2022. The building is owned by the social landlord Places for People. They are an incredibly supportive landlord who in our experience are passionate about the local community.
The picture below shows our new premises at 1-2 Craigmillar Castle Road, Edinburgh, EH16 4BX.
The building had been empty for over 5 years and the landlords were considering whether or not to sell it. Luckily for us, they were keen to keep it for use by the local community and happy for us to take on a longer-term lease. They spent over £122,000 fixing the roof, installing new lighting and repointing the brickwork outside. We got the keys on 10th January 2022.
In 2021, we carried out a survey with over 243 local young people and professionals who had fed back on how important they felt it was for young people to have a safe space outside of school and home, where they could talk to someone about their sexual, emotional and mental health (report available here).
Thoughts & Ideas from Young People
We wanted to understand what local young people thought would make a building feel like a ‘safe space’. We consulted with 18 young people, aged 11 to 26 (both individually and in small groups) to ask how they felt our new premises should look inside. They gave the following feedback:
Everyone agreed the most important thing is how people treat you when you contact or go into Let’s Talk. In terms of our physical space, they came up with the following ideas:
- Not clinical
- Colours of nature
- Mountains and trees and flowers
- Nice carpets
- Not babyish or patronising
- Not like a GP surgery
- Different spaces to meet in groups or talk privately to a worker
- Clear about confidentiality
- Nice lighting
- Good vibes
- Welcoming and friendly
- Sea scapes
- Warm colours
- Bright lighting
- Know how to get out
- Nice colours – muted, not too bright but colourful
- Blue, greens and yellows
- Modern and sophisticated, grown-up and stylish
- Information about what we can get
- Things to look at or read, or do while we wait
- Plants – lots of plants and green
- Calming colours
- Soft, nice furniture – comfortable
- Chilled atmosphere
- Bright colours (not too much though)
- Tactile things and fidget toys
- Soft lighting (not dingy)
- Clear signs
- Clean and not cluttered
- Gradients of colour
- Lots of plants or pictures of plants
- Shells and palm trees
- Nice lights
- Murals or printed pictures on the wall – like a feature wall
- Playful fish – maybe carps
- Colourful floor
- Different places – to eat, relax, do stuff, meet people
- Visual things on the walls – like pictures of nature, forests and seascapes
- Get ideas from Pinterest
Biophilic Design – Bringing the outside-inside
We did some research on biophilic design and looked into how to bring the inside-outside. This provides an eco-cleaning, environmental impact:
- Indoor planters,
- Mini gardens or purifying plants,
- Living walls,
- Flooring, wall décor, acoustic panels,
- Natural art,
- Representations of nature.
We are part of the online Trauma-Informed Community, set up by Lisa Cherry. We asked professionals there what they thought and they gave the following feedback:
- Affirming posters,
- Chairs are set up so they can see the door,
- Clear signs for exits,
- It needs to be clear they can leave at any time and what to do if they want to leave,
- Textiles with different textures.
Inside the building was desperately in need of some love and care. New LED lighting had been installed but otherwise, it was in a state of disrepair.
Hatching a Plan
We formulated an initial plan for the design project which involved four distinct parts:
- In our interior design, we wanted to create a trauma-responsive environment for young people and a relaxing working environment for our team.
- We wanted to create a garden space which offered a community green space for local children and young people.
- We wanted to create a community café space where we could offer work experience placements for young people who were interested in learning about catering and the service industry.
- We wanted to install a range of environmentally friendly adaptations, looking at solar panels, heat pumps, water butts and electric car chargers.
We were successful in an initial application to The National Lottery Community Grant Fund and were awarded £9,494 for the interiors project. We applied to the Clothworkers’ Foundation and to several other funders to try and find more funding to realise our dreams.
We linked to Napier University to offer design placements and were really delighted to be able to select 4 design students to help us implement our initial plan. Sadly one had to stop due to ill health but Daga Strzecha, Josie Hawdon and Rhys Adair completed the placement. The picture below shows the design students with our Managing Director.
Asking the pros and gathering donations
We spoke to a local interior designer to ask for her advice on how we could implement young people’s design ideas. She very kindly donated some of her time to help us. Some friends and family offered to help with some initial cleaning and painting and Carr Gomm (Scottish social care and community development charity) gave us a donation of enough office furniture to equip our whole building. Our students asked to donate the lunch and travel expenses they were entitled to, to donate to the project. We were incredibly grateful for all of this amazing support and help. The pictures below show some of the people who donated time to help:
Great News – City of Edinburgh Council Funding
To our great joy, we were then successful in our application to the City of Edinburgh Council Community Mental Health Grant Fund. This funding meant that we can now provide a range of trauma-responsive mental health services for children and young people in the Craigmillar and Portobello areas of Edinburgh, working in partnership with Edinburgh Community Yoga, Tinderbox (music) Collective and Edinburgh and Lothian’s Greenspace Trust to develop a community garden at the rear of our new premises. At this point, we reviewed our initial plan and in light of the new funding and all the donations we had received, we decided to change our proposal to focus entirely on the interior design work.
We decided to delay our plans for the more extensive building work which would be required for the disabled toilets, community café and environmental adaptations we had originally envisioned. We realised that we would need to create a longer-term plan and that we’d also need to embark on more intensive fundraising for this work, which is currently out of our capacity. We will link with the City of Edinburgh Council Community Benefits website, where companies may be able to support the more complex aspects of our ‘wishlist’.
Our toilets are currently accessible for most people, including those in wheelchairs, although wider doors would be an advantage. As part of our interior design project, we managed to create a small café space, which also includes an outdoor seated area, which we can use in the meantime. In addition, we decided to use some of our reception space as a gallery where local young people can exhibit their artwork, for free and keep all funds that they raise selling their work.
We were so happy when we heard back from the Clothworker’s Foundation, to tell us that they had awarded us £20,000 for our design project. With the donations and money from our own funds, we now had enough funding to finish the interior design. We were able to employ people to help us with the flooring and the painting and moving the donation of furniture.
After being awarded this funding, we were very happy to be able to invite Kirsten Craig (our interior designer) to work with us on the design project.
Employing an interior designer
We immediately saw the advantage of employing someone who understood and had experience in interior design. Kirsten had initially specialised in fabric, although she is an accomplished artist, has an eye for upcycling and for sourcing second-hand treasures. Her early career saw her designing interiors in a diverse range of settings – hotels, nightclubs, houses and TV sets. Her design style is contemporary and sophisticated and due to her broad range of experience and skills, she was able to view the space in a way that we hadn’t thought of. She considered how the space would be used and how people would move through the building and how elements from the design would flow throughout the space.
She developed mood boards to illustrate her interior ideas, which were based on feedback from young people.
She supported and led our ‘A-Team’ group of design students, encouraging them to express their own design ideas and supporting them to develop their practical skills, planning and implementing their designs. Together they developed incredible murals in our group rooms and café spaces and print design for an information card for young people and a map of our local community.
Bringing Ideas to Life
One of the most commented-on features of the whole design is Kirsten’s careful choice of colours, which she linked to our research into biophilic design. She included darker greens and blues to reduce blood pressure and create a sense of calm. She contrasted this with soft, warm colours for our one-to-one rooms to provide a sense of relaxation, safety and comfort. The feedback from young people using the space so far shows they are amazed and impressed by the design and how grown up and stylish it is.
As a final touch, Kirsten created a ‘wall of love’ in our garden space. Everyone who had been part of the design project signed their names on this wall and it’s a beautiful reminder of those who were involved and of our values and purpose. We hope that over time this dedication wall will continue to grow.
We will always be so grateful for the incredible work of the volunteers, the tradespeople, the design team and our new Mental Health Project Workers for creating such a beautiful space for children and young people in our local community.
When our interior project was completed, we held an opening event, asking all of those who had been involved and other interested people, to come along and have a look around. Student Support Staff from Napier University came to see the work the students had carried out. It was an emotional and fun day and everyone who had worked on the project felt a real sense of achievement.
Many thanks to our funders and all partners and volunteers who took part in this project.