Children and Young Peoples' Mental Health Service (CYPMHS) inpatient unit for West Yorkshire

How we built Red Kite View

Red Kite View (RKV) is our Children and Young People’s Mental Health Inpatient Unit which opened in January 2022 – the culmination of an epic five year project led by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Based at the St Mary’s Hospital site in Armley, Leeds, it was designed in partnership with clinicians and young people. They have all contributed their ideas, hopes and aspirations for care. They also helped to decide on the name ‘Red Kite View’ as nature is strongly associated with mental wellbeing and rehabilitation.

The 22-bed unit is part of a drive to eliminate out-of-area placements for young people who need to be inpatients but can’t access a bed locally. Two main wards are staffed by a 100-strong expert team able to offer a wide range of therapies and support. They will work closely with the young person’s community mental health team during their stay, ensuring they can return to their families and local communities as soon as possible.

Enjoy our two-minute video news release published just before it opened in January 2022:

Dawn Hanwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT), which runs Red Kite View, said: “It has been my privilege to lead this project and finally see it come to fruition after five years of hard work by a huge range of people. This fantastic new facility is something we in the NHS and our children, their parents and carers have so desperately wanted for so long.

“Our enhanced expert team will be providing fantastic quality care closer to home, and I sincerely hope that once it’s fully operational, it will ultimately see the end of young people going out-of-area for care.”

Tim Richardson, Head of Operations for Children and Young People’s Services at LYPFT, said: “We spent a lot of time listening to young people with lived experience of mental health services to influence the environment and the way we deliver care.

“Our young people told us they wanted Red Kite View to feel like a home-from-home, or even like a hotel, and not clinical like a hospital. They also told us nature was important in terms of wellbeing and recovery. So we designed it to feel just like that, trying to ‘bring the outside in’ where we could through space, natural light and some quite incredible artwork.”

A multi award winning project

We’re rightly proud of Red Kite View and all the work that went into the design, the build, and recruiting and training the staff. So, we’ve been successfully submitting it for a few industry awards.

Two gongs at Constructing Excellence

Red Kite View won two awards at the Constructing Excellence in Yorkshire and Humber awards in July 2022 – one for Integration and Collaborative Working, as well as Project of the Year!

Pictured with the awards are Dave Sanderson, LYPFT Estates and Facilities Transformation Director, and Emma Lovelady, Project Manager within our Programme Management Office & Estates Team.

Pictured with the Constructing Excellence awards are Dave Sanderson, LYPFT Estates and Facilities Transformation Director, and Emma Lovelady, Project Manager within our Programme Management Office & Estates Team.

Design in Mental Health Project of the Year 2022

A huge congratulations to the Red Kite View design and build team who picked up Project of the Year at the Design in Mental Health Awards on 7 June 2022.

Pictured left to right below at the awards are Andrew Arnold from Gilling Dod architects, Dave Sanderson (LYPFT estates), Pat Young (RKV Project Manager) and Emma Lovelady (Project Manager).

Pictured left to right at the awards are Andrew Arnold from Gilling Dod architects, Dave Sanderson (LYPFT estates), Pat Young (RKV Project Manager) and Emma Lovelady (RKV project support officer).


The St Mary’s Hospital site – heritage and hope

Bramley Union workhouse archive pictureRed Kite View is among the best of what modern construction can deliver for healthcare. It also marks the first of a new era of municipal developments on the Trust’s St Mary’s Hospital site.

In 1871 the Bramley Union workhouse (pictured) was built on a rural hilltop site for the poor of a large surrounding area. In the 1920s the Victorian institution began to train midwives, and eventually it became known as St Mary’s Hospital – a maternity hospital where some of our own Trust staff have been born.

Approximately a century later, a futuristic building now provides inpatient care for the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Service on the same wooded site.

The new building is very different to the red brick of the earlier workhouse and maternity units: designed with reassurance and privacy in mind, amid a large number of protected trees.

And Red Kite View is a symbol of hope – it will provide a West Yorkshire service to keep our young people closer to their communities while they receive the best possible care from experts in their field.


From concept to creation – you can watch a short video of the journey to build Red Kite View.


What we believe

Our aim is that Red Kite View will be an outstanding service and a centre of excellence, with a team which delivers high quality clinical care at the forefront of research and development in children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS).

We believe that inpatient admissions should be an extension of community work and not a separate intervention. We have a dedicated multi-disciplinary team who will work closely with our young people’s community mental health teams to ensure admissions are purposeful, therapeutic, and promote an effective recovery – helping our inpatients go back home as soon as possible.

Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the need for inpatient care and reinvest in the community where young people should be, living their lives and thriving.

Red Kite View will be supporting some of the most complex young people from across the region. Our inpatient team will work to the Provider Collaborative principles of fewer inpatient admissions, a shorter length of stay, and keeping young people closer to home – reducing the need for young people to be treated out of their local area.

To do so, the team will seek to forge excellent relations with community teams, social care and third sector organisations.

The service will ensure that young people are involved in their care planning and treatment pathway and are also able to inform and influence the design, development, and delivery of the service. We will support all young people to achieve optimum levels of independence, functioning and well-being, recognising that everyone has the right always to be treated with dignity and respect.

The therapeutic relationship between staff and young people is central to effective work within an inpatient CYPMH service.

The service will develop a holistic and systemic approach, recognising the impact of the social environment such as family, friends, community professionals and school in a young person’s experience and understanding that environment cannot be separated from a young person’s mental wellbeing.

Care planning will involve families and carers as far as is appropriate.

A picture of Nik LeeNik Lee, a mental health nurse by background, is the Operations Manager at Red Kite View.

He says: “Our young people’s Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), known as Lapwing Ward, is a new service for the area.

“This six-bed ward is a low stimulus, highly structured therapeutic environment with high levels of staff to ensure that the behaviours that any young person presents with can be assessed and supported.

“Our General Assessment Unit (GAU), known as Skylark Ward, is a 16-bed ward providing the same high standards of care without the need for enhanced physical or security measures. Everyone staying on the wards will have their own bedrooms, en-suite bathrooms, and access to social space both indoors and outside.

“Our Education Suite, known as the Starling Suite, is where young people will be able to access teaching and learning activities so they can continue with their studies during their stay with us.

“We’ve also got a young peoples’ health-based place of safety for Leeds which will open later this year. This is a place for young people detained under the Mental Health Act to receive care from specialist health professionals, rather than be detained in police custody or go to A&E.”

A safe, calming and therapeutic space

‘Create a safe and calming site that can also fascinate and be therapeutic for our vulnerable young people when they are going through difficult times.’

That was the brief for Robin Graham of architects Gilling Dodd and Kate Shearer of Ares Landscape Architects when they took on the challenge of working on Red Kite View, a site of almost three acres.

They were being asked to create a modern, fit-for-purpose building on a heavily wooded, sloping site close to houses and on the site of a former workhouse and maternity hospital. They weren’t just dealing with physical elements, they were trying to move forward creatively from the days of St Mary’s Hospital.

An artist's impression of Red Kite View developed in February 2021

Above: Artist’s impression created February 2021

Robin: “There were obviously a lot of challenges but an awful lot of pluses. The shape as designed meanders through woods, while the front door looks to the ‘village green’ just off the road as you enter the Red Kite View’s site. Then you look across the atrium to the back door to the woods. That’s something you just can’t buy.

“The design went through a great many changes to reach the final layout that meets clinical best practice.

“Despite those changes, the design remains faithful to the concept of a building meandering through the trees which was shown at the public consultation and at the pre-planning consultation meeting. We chose the design option that lost the least trees and we’re replanting a good many more.

“All the bedrooms look out onto the wooded areas to maximise the calm the young people can get in their rooms. Trees also help to provide privacy.

“There’s an outdoor area where families can sit when they visit, and a water wall has been installed near the main entrance. Staff, young people, and visitors can enjoy the calming effects of the water wall and view, surrounded by trees. There’s space for a ball sports area and for gardening.

“It’s been designed to be accessible for all, with all service user ward facilities on the ground floor.”

Kate: “The whole site has a village green feeling, and there are a number of beautiful old trees – some of them over 150 years old. All the trees on the site are under preservation orders. We wanted to make best use of the features already there, including the old stone walls, so the building is very much influenced by its setting.

“It’s very much like a treehouse in the woodland canopy, particularly when you go up to the first floor.”

Robin: “We deliberately chose soft and homely materials, and I’m really pleased that the young people chose soft colours for the interior walls.”

Kate: “We did have to make changes to the plans because of Covid. The building is larger than originally envisaged, to allow social distances inside the building and protect service users and staff, and some external layout and planting have been changed.

“When we came to think about the plants to use, we chose a mix of those that gave a sensation of colours and touch – bulbs like tulips in the spring with a splash of brightness, for example.”

So what was the best thing about working with the Trust?

Kate: “We always got back to what was vital to the Trust – to deliver something that was really important to the client. If we queried anything the answer would always be: ‘Is that the best?’ They were always collaborative.

“Red Kite View has been a big challenge but we all worked as a team.”

Robin: “The Trust team were very good at saying what they wanted to do. For example they were very clear about areas such as the dining spaces which was hugely helpful when we were designing for the young people with eating disorders.”

“The commitment the team put in throughout the entire process – it was quite special. There was a consistent push to deliver high quality.”

Do you think they’ve pulled it off?

Have a look at this aerial footage shot in December 2021 and judge for yourselves.

Art helps tackle challenges for our young people

Red Kite View arts workstream lead Em Inman has enlisted the talents of five Northern artists and commissioned the organisation ‘Paintings in Hospitals’ to loan a collection of further high calibre artworks including a range from the Arts Council.

She wants the works – almost 50 – to address the wider challenges faced by young people by acknowledging the role that creativity and originality has to play in all our lives.

On top of that, Em has run a highly successful community competition which attracted 86 entries from which our young people selected four winning pieces which are on display at Red Kite View.

Meet the artists

Leeds United mural painting

Drive by the Asda in Wortley, close to Red Kite View, and you’ll see popular Leeds United manager Bielsa depicted as ‘Christ the Redeemer’ superimposed on a gigantic mural of the famous statue that towers over Rio de Janeiro.

The Asda mural (pictured), which achieved two million hits within hours on Twitter, and was especially popular in South American countries, is the work of Leeds artist Nicolas Dixon, who has been commissioned to produce the painting in Red Kite View’s general adolescent unit.

Nicolas won’t be painting Bielsa in Red Kite View. As regards interpreting his work for Red Kite View, he says: “It is abstract – all the shapes are interlocking. The palette of greens and browns, earthy colours, will have a feel of nature looking onto the communal garden – I want to bring the outside in and take the inside out.”

Nicolas originally studied on the world-first music production course at Leeds College of Music. He didn’t find it to his taste as there wasn’t enough hands-on music making, so when he graduated he went off to DJ in Thailand with a box of records. Three years later he met a girlfriend who completely changed the direction of his life – she was an artist and he gave up music to travel with her.

‘I’d never painted or even touched a sketchbook, but I’d always had crazy doodles going through my mind, and after a ten-year gap I showed some random sketches to a friend who immediately had me collaborating on party backdrops – and it hasn’t stopped since then.”

Nicolas is now well known as one of the UK’s most recognisable abstract artists, and he has worked around the world and rubbed shoulders with the great names of street art.

He has been commissioned by Disney to custom paint a BB-8 droid to celebrate The Force Awakens and he has worked with other artists painting a school in a deprived area of Tanzania. Another highlight was being chosen as one of 10 artists to paint murals across British cities to mark the opening of the Tokyo Olympics: Nicolas’ work is on the Edge sports complex at the University of Leeds.

And he feels the work for Red Kite View is especially important to him. “I feel privileged to be involved. Mental health difficulties are so current. I don’t know anyone who isn’t struggling. I did an NHS giveaway during Lockdown One – I offered a painting on a Facebook post for NHS workers who had gone above and beyond and I was inundated with nominations.

“I gave one to a nurse who was a frontline worker on a Covid ward in Leeds and another in Manchester. I felt at least they could come home and switch off for a bit with the pic.”

Bunty MarshallSince she was a small child, Bunty Marshall has never been seen without a pencil in her hand or some creative project on the go. Cardboard boxes full of her youthful projects are still stowed away carefully in every spare space at her parents’ home.

But like her parents with the carboard boxes, Bunty has thrown none of her learning away and she burst into our living rooms when she won the papercraft contest just before Christmas on nationwide TV on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas this Christmas just past (2021).

Bunty trained in graphic and digital embroidery design and had stints in hospitality and café management before finding her true outlet in sculpture and bespoke model making, reflecting individual memories for the people who commission them.

“I’ve just been able to go full time, and when I was asked to produce a work for Red Kite View I was absolutely honoured, it is such a privilege,” she says. Bunty has created a map of destinations in Yorkshire which are fun and adventurous to visit, and which she has hand drawn onto a wall in the unit.

“I’m an avid walker – I’ve visited every one of the destinations on the map, and it’s my method for coping with living in a busy city.

“It’s become very important for me to wind down among nature and Yorkshire’s historical past. I would recommend that 100% to others – it’s a great way to help keep your mental health in check.”

Claire Jagger

Fine artist and teacher Claire Jagger creates colourful non-representational art.

She uses a range of materials and media to create her work, including acrylic paints, oils and posca pens but also uses media not usually associated with fine art, from household paint and biro pen, through to electrician’s tape and permanent markers.

Claire creates work from postcards to murals. She loves the contrast between working on and sending a small handcrafted postcard (many of these were sent out to connect with friends during lockdown) compared to larger scale pieces such as the work she has done at Red Kite View.

“I was delighted to be selected to work on the mural at Red Kite View. It’s fantastic that a range of artists have been commissioned to create exciting work for the spaces.

“I have enjoyed the challenge of selecting the colours and shapes to use, making sure that they are appropriate for the environment.

“One of the challenges of working on such a large scale is to keep all the marks scaled up. l also needed to adapt my materials, and use large decorators’ brushes in addition to traditional paintbrushes.

“I needed to keep stepping back to check the work as I went along – it’s all too easy to get absorbed in a small area. It took about two days to paint the wall and then another to finish off with sealing.”

Dave Gee

Dave Gee’s schoolbooks were always covered with doodles, and although he says he has no formal art training, having studied multimedia at Leeds Beckett University, he began to sell prints of his artwork soon after he left university.

After a year he moved to Berlin to work in an art gallery and started exhibiting his artwork there. “This is really where my art became serious,” he says, “and when I came back to the UK I began to work towards being a full time artist/doodler. So my path into art and doodling was pretty unconventional really.”

Dave’s trademark is his maps that combine his unique doodle style with cartoon illustrations, using only his trusted posca paint pens.

Based in Manchester, he’s worked around the world for commercial companies, an international hotel group, and private clients, as far afield as Hong Kong, New York, and Europe.

“Map wise, I have always been interested in the layout of cities. But the actual idea for drawing them came from when I was in Berlin.

“I was exhibiting at a small gallery, showing some of my old doodle pieces that are more abstract than my current pieces, and someone said to me that my work looked like a city from above due to all the shapes.

“They compared it to an aerial photo of a city where you see the tops of buildings. This planted the seed in my head of the maps.”

Dave adds: “I really enjoyed working at Red Kite. The wall was quite a challenge due to the scale of it but it meant I could cover a really large area of Leeds which was a lot of fun. Red Kite seems like it is going to be a really modern hospital and it was also enjoyable meeting the other artists and seeing their pieces come together.”

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