New home for soldiers and their families

Former US chat show host Montel Williams has been in the West Midlands today as building work starts on a new facility in Birmingham where families of injured soldiers can stay nearby. 

Fisher House at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham will be a ‘home from home’ where wounded troops can spend time away from the ward with their families, friends and colleagues. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity, in partnership with American charity Fisher House Foundation and UK charity Help for Heroes have joined together for the project.

The purpose-built two-storey property will be a short walk from the hospital and has been designed by a Birmingham-based firm of architects to complement the surrounding buildings.

Catering for people of all abilities, the home will be a largely open plan property with wide connecting corridors and wheelchair accessible lifts. There will be 18 en-suite bedrooms for families of patients to stay in as well as communal living facilities including a family room and play area, lounge, kitchen, dining areas and laundry room. Outside will be a private garden with space for children to play in and guest parking.

Mike Hammond, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity, said: “The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham opened in June 2010, following the closure of Selly Oak, and is the receiving hospital for all the UK’s military patients who are wounded or injured anywhere in the world.

“The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity has played an important role in providing additional equipment, care and welfare to the military patients in the hospital, but until now has not focused on the families who travel many miles, and often from abroad, to be by their loved ones’ bedsides. We are therefore thrilled to launch the Fisher House for military patients and their families.”

“This is a great day not only for Fisher House and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital but for the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,” said Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation. “For more than two decades, we have built Fisher Houses to serve American military families in their time of great need. We’re proud to now help bring this same model of compassion and caring to Britain, whose military families make the same sacrifices, bear the same burdens and need the same support as American military families. We look forward to the day this house opens to begin its much-needed work.”

Bryn Parry, Co-founder of Help for Heroes, said: “We are delighted to be supporting our wounded and their families, working in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity and Fisher House Foundation. This project is key to helping our heroes on their road to recovery.  Since the charity started, we have seen a clear demand for Fisher House and know how important it is for families to be near loved ones during times of distress when support is so greatly needed.”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity is very grateful for the generous grants from Fisher House Foundation and Help for Heroes. Fisher House Foundation has awarded a grant of US$2m to the project, the first time it has supported a project outside of US soil. Help for Heroes has awarded a £1.5m grant, and has already confirmed a further £50,000 per year for the ongoing running costs. In total, the Fisher House will cost in the region of £4.2m.

Construction of the Fisher House is expected to be completed by early 2013.