Transforming Lives with DIY SOS: The Big Build
In a heartwarming collaboration that embodies the spirit of community and compassion, Essex-based mental health charity Butterfly Effect Wellbeing took centre stage in the recent BBC ONE DIY SOS Christmas Special.
The project saw new life injected into a dilapidated former caretaker's cottage in Harlow, transforming it into a state-of-the-art wellbeing hub.
Airing on 18th December 2023, the episode showcased the incredible efforts of the DIY SOS team, led by presenter Nick Knowles, along with a dedicated team of volunteers, including stars from EastEnders.
The Butterfly Effect Wellbeing Charity
Founded by Angela Hannibal in memory of her mother, who tragically lost her life to suicide in 2020, Butterfly Effect Wellbeing has been a beacon of hope for those grappling with mental health issues. Operating initially from cafes and church halls, the charity's journey led them to a small portakabin at Paringdon Sports Club, where it provided support services faced challenges due to the lack of essential facilities. A Facebook advert by DIY SOS: The Big Build calling for local charities proved to be the turning point, as Angela's dream of a fully-equipped wellbeing hub began to materialise.
The vacant caretaker's cottage in Latton Bush became the canvas for transformation, with planning permission from Harlow Council providing the green light. The DIY SOS team, joined by Team Hill and local supply chain partners, contributed to a remarkable makeover, resulting in a facility that not only meets but exceeds the charity's needs.
Our Commitment to Community Wellbeing
The project, which unfolded throughout October and December, resulted in a modern, bright, and airy building with meeting and activity rooms, a modern kitchen, and attractively landscaped outdoor spaces, including an allotment.
We were delighted to donate a SoloHaus unit to Butterfly Effect Wellbeing, which now provides additional space for health and wellbeing classes, including meditation, yoga, and holistic healing.
Successfully completing an important community project like this against the clock requires everyone to pull together, and I was delighted to see so many from Hill and our supply chain rally in support. We are acutely aware of the growing number of people facing mental health issues, not just in our industry, and it’s crucial that we make a difference and lead from the front. It has been a heartwarming project to be a part of and I’m delighted we have been able to offer our help to the Butterfly Effect Wellbeing, featured on BBC One’s ‘DIY SOS: The Big Build’, who provide incredibly valuable support to local people when they need it most.
The Future of Butterfly Effect Wellbeing
Run solely by volunteers, including a psychologist offering free services, the centre now conducts daily group and drop-in sessions. Paid-for classes are also available to the wider community, with proceeds supporting free services for those in need. Butterfly Effect Wellbeing continues to expand its services, collaborating with the local NHS outpatient mental health team and is planning initiatives such as a gardening club in the allotment space, and community events in 2024 to fundraise for its valuable services.
Being part of DIY SOS and getting this amazing new facility is a dream come true. I’m so pleased to have done all this in memory of my mum, which allows us to help more people who, like her, find themselves facing tough times."
The facility, equipped with a fully operational kitchen, now hosts free daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner clubs, offering vital sustenance during the festive season. Partnering with Streets2Homes, the charity is fully booked for Christmas Day lunch, demonstrating the immediate positive impact of its new premises within the community.