Children and Young People | News

Topping Out ceremony celebrates key milestone for Pears Maudsley Centre

The £65 million Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People will transform the treatment of young people's mental health.

By Lisa Harewood · March 29, 2022

(From left to right) Sir Norman Lamb, Rebecca Gray, Jasmin, David Bradley, Hector McAlpine, Professor Shitij Kapur, and Professor Ian Everall.

Just nine months after breaking ground at the Denmark Hill site of the new Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People, a traditional topping out ceremony was held today to mark the completion of the skeleton of the building. The ceremony was attended by members of the local community, funders, leading clinicians, dignitaries, and young people who were involved in the design of the building.

Set to open in 2023, the centre is the result of a partnership between South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London and Maudsley Charity. It is being built by Integrated Health Projects, an alliance between VINCI Construction UK and Sir Robert McAlpine.

Maudsley Charity is a leading supporter of the Centre, which will bring together world-leading academic and clinical expertise to transform the way we understand, predict, treat and prevent mental illness. The £65 million cost of construction has been partly funded by an ambitious fundraising campaign to address the urgent demands for an increased need in mental health provision for children and young people.

Once completed, the centre aims to transform child and adolescent mental health care through a unique collaboration between world-leading academics and clinicians, which will significantly speed up the time taken to bring research breakthroughs into clinical treatment.

The event included ceremonial pouring of concrete to complete the roof of the eight-storey building and the placement of an evergreen bough – a tradition which dates back to Roman times, when tree boughs were used to protect buildings from evil spirits and bring in blessings from the tree spirits.

Jasmin, one of the young people who contributed to the design of the centre, helps with the ceremonial pouring of concrete with Works Manager, Ed Tidmarsh.

It is fantastic to see this unique building taking shape, giving an insight into the life-changing facility it is going to become. The centre will support our local south London community, which has some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country, together with specialist national children’s mental health services that are available to everyone in England.

Sir Norman Lamb, Chair of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

After so many years of hard work, it is incredibly exciting to see the Pears Maudsley Centre coming to fruition. This project is rooted in partnership and collaboration and the Centre will enable us to develop ground-breaking treatments that will transform the lives of children and young people at a time when improving their mental health has never been more important.

David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Maudsley Charity, which backs better mental health, has contributed £10m to the project and with the partners, has also generated significant support from charitable foundations including Pears Foundation, the Rayne Foundation and individual donors.

Chief Executive of the Maudsley Charity, Rebecca Gray, speaking at the event

Today’s ceremony is another significant milestone for The Pears Maudsley Centre and the partnership behind this innovative development.

But this is more than just a building. With support from philanthropists and the public we can improve mental health outcomes now and for the future. Our commitment is that we can ‘Change The Story’ on children’s mental health - and the centre is the physical embodiment of that vision.

Chief Executive of the Maudsley Charity, Rebecca Gray

The Pears Maudsley Centre will be home to clinicians and academics in the field of children and young people’s mental health from the Trust and from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), as well as the outstanding Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School and young in-patients.

It will provide treatment to young people with a range of conditions, from eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder, to anxiety, ADHD, autism and trauma.

There is no other Centre like this in the world. This will benefit our communities locally and nationally and lead to sharing best practice across the world, influencing global policy and mental health outcomes.

Professor Shitij Kapur, President and Principal of King’s College London

Around half of adult mental health conditions begin by the time a child reaches 14, rising to 75 per cent by the age of 24. Learn more about our campaign to ‘Change the Story’.

Guests were led to the ceremony by a piper to honour McAlpine's Scottish heritage.