Monday, 1 August 2011

Self help guru's bid for Dorridge centre

A SELF help author wants to set up a “counselling and life coaching centre” for up to 14 “wealthy and well-educated” people in Dorridge.


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Harley Street psychotherapist Benjamin Fry wants to use seven-bedroom Orchard House in Earlswood Road to offer residential stays of one to three months.

A planning application says clients include those with “neurotic life concerns, anxiety, depression and undesirable habits such as over-eating, gambling etc”.

Mr Fry (below) has appeared on the BBC Three series Spendaholics and is author of “How To Be Happy” and “What’s Wrong With You”.

The application says: “Clients will have a course of structured therapy, comprising a combination of group therapy, individual counselling and other therapies specific to their issues.”

The applications adds: “In a therapeutic community such as this, the aim is to undo a lifetime of such habits, one of which is often withdrawal or isolation, and one of the prime aims is to encourage clients to work together as a group to support each other.”

It says: “There are sometimes objections raised to this kind of use from local residents on the perception of the nature of the clients and of fear of crime.

“It must be stressed that clients will typically be wealthy and well-education, and most will be referred by the applicant’s Harley street practice and from other colleagues in central London.

“As such, any such concerns would be wholly without foundation.”


It adds: “The proposal will provide a rehabilitation centre which will benefit society as a whole.”

A member of staff will always be on site and there will be “occasional” group outings to evening meetings. Residents will not be allowed off site unaccompanied.

The planning application to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council seeks to use the house as a centre for two years. No structural changes are planned.

Mr Fry’s official biography says he is a “child of misfortune and privilege” who was born into a wealthy family but lost his mother at eleven months.

It says in his 20s he sought help for “emotional issues and was able to spend the time and money necessary to really explore what was wrong with him”.

It says: “He discovered that despite his gilt-edged education at top private schools and Oxford University he really knew nothing about the most fundamental aspects of enjoying and understanding his own life. He decided that that should change.”

It comes as plans were also unveiled to create a drug rehabilitation centre for wealthy Middle East clients in Hockley Heath.

The private Aylesbury House Hotel has been sold to Right Start Foundation International for the project.

A statement on its website says: “The project is still in the early stages of its development.

“We are still actively consulting a wide range of stakeholders, specialists and interested bodies.”

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  1. Do we really need havens for the siblings and off spring of the rich and famous inundating us? For me the answer is a resounding NO! How can either be said to benefit the area or that any concerns are unfounded?


  2. Why is it felt that those who are 'wealthy and well education'(?educated)are thought to behave in a less troublesome fashion than those whose mental health issues have developed as a result of their less privileged upbringing?
    Why if the local community is not to be concerned do the clients need constant supervision? And why are they not to be allowed off-site unaccompanied?
    Why are there no facilities for these clients nearer to their homes in London, if indeed they are to be referred from Harley Street and not the local area?
    How will treating the wealthy of London benefit society as a whole?

  3. In answer to the 2nd comment- the reason people with addictions are not allowed out unaccompanied is so that they do not try to feed their addiction whilst receiving specialist help, it is not because these people pose a threat or a problem to society at large. I do agree that there are clinics local to London where people can get treatment and help but also for the same reason that when people entered rehabilitation originally in Birmingham and Solihull they were sent to other area's of the country to take away some of the triggers of relapse that they would face if they stayed locally as it meant that they could leave the rehabilitation centre and go back to their old ways within a few minutes of leaving. If a centre is further away it can give a person time to think before they relapse and start their treatment journey again. I know this is not the case for all people in treatment but a high percentage of people do prefer to be away. It would potentially benefit the people of the area by providing employment as the centre would require 24 hour staffing with around 10-15 people on duty 24 hours of the day 7 days a week each in 8 hour shifts, that means the potential for 45 new jobs being created. I understand the objections people will have but as I have worked as a specialist substance misuse worker for over 10 years then I can say that most fears people have are because the media has demonised addictions rather than spending the time working to help rebuild people, famalies and communities as me and my colleagues in this field of work do.

  4. Regarding benefits through employment mentioned above and by the 'Right Start' spokesman this week - they are in the view of many residents totally fallacious. 'Right Start' make big of the planned staff being highly experienced and trained in the area of rehabilitation. How many will already live in the area? Very few from views expressed Thursday night. This leave lowly paid jobs in catering and security hardly a benfit. Further neither proposal will add Kudos in any way to the areas involved and and more likely to result in depreciation of housing values. What we need it prestige projects not these.

    Worse, in the view of many, was that Right Start have no current expertise in this field but will need to buy it in. Therefore the assurances and claims they sought to make have no or very little substance.


    PS Editor - Does the Right Start proposal not merit an entry in its own right rather than be tacked on to a different one?

  5. How come the Earlswood Blogspot is more up to date on this matter than is The Silhillian? They have some quotes from Parish Councillors and an email address for those concerned.

    Is Hockley Heath outwith your remit perhaps?