The ORTUS and an unlikely new mascot…

30.10.13 Categories:

The ORTUS opened in June and Genevieve is delighted the comfortable, sleek, eco-friendly spaces inside are proving just as enticing. The oak floors, full-height windows and airy atrium create a calm, light-filled environment that is ideal for meetings and events and quiet individual study too.

Located at the edge of the Maudsley Hospital site on Grove Lane in Camberwell, the building is a major investment for the Maudsley Charity who have provided funding of £7 million. The ORTUS will support Maudsley Learning's goal of improving knowledge and raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing and is, importantly, open to all.

ORTUS Maudsley Learning CentreThis ethos of collaboration was underlined earlier this year when Maudsley Learning ran a competition inviting staff and service users and the local community to suggest names for the five main rooms. Perhaps the most unusual is ‘Buddy’, named after a nine-year-old Tibetan terrier dog who generates warmth and affection on psychiatric wards around the country.

'She is a very loving animal and brightens up the wards she visits,' says Geoff Brennan, a Nurse Tutor who works at the nearby Institute of Psychiatry. 'I nominated her as a tribute to her owner, Marion Janner and the wonderful work she does through Star Wards.'

As a support dog, Buddy provides Marion, who has a mental illness, with a constant companion and a good reason to stay safe. Buddy was part of Marion's inspiration for Star Wards, which promotes simple, low-cost ideas — including animals as therapy — that are having a welcome impact on inpatient care and recovery rates. Over 80% of psychiatric wards in the UK, including SLaM, have signed up, and Marion has received an OBE for her work.

'I was thrilled and very touched when I heard Buddy’s name had been chosen,' she says.

The room names reinforce the ‘open for all’ atmosphere in the ORTUS, as does the café, a relaxed space that opens on to an outdoor terrace and serves healthy, seasonal food. 

With staff and local residents dropping in for delicious hand-brewed coffee and lunch, and events highlighting work supported by Maudsley Charity, the ORTUS is already building its profile and creating a buzz. Any surplus profits will be put back into the charity for investment in other innovative mental health projects.


New spaces like the ORTUS are vital for the Maudsley community. To ensure projects like this keep running, please make a donation today.

To find out more about the ORTUS, please visit the Maudsley Learning website.