Centre Coordinator Shirley Kirkland on how the Centre
reaches out to people in the local community

The various popular classes, activities, workshops and services that the Centre provides mean that people can easily access information to find help and break the isolation that comes from being in a disadvantaged situation.

The work of the Centre continues to thrive and despite losing two teachers last year we have been well able to replace them, and the registrations show that local people appreciate the classes and the teachers, with good numbers attending every week. Amanda, the knitting teacher, has designed and encouraged students to work on a huge project to replace the tired old knitted squares decorating the project’s shutters for the last two years. It is looking amazing!

I have enjoyed having Megan helping out in the Centre and between us we are hoping to organise a monthly film evening and further develop our newsletter which we delivered on the Leybridge Estate. Feedback shows it was well received by local people.

Our new literacy class, although small so far, has made a huge difference to those attending, all of whom have said they’ve never had the chance of one-on-one support with a teacher before in their lives, and they now feel much more confident.

We are planning a cookery club, all about teaching us how best to cook healthily. In preparation I have attended cookery sessions with the GCDA so that I can understand what support students will require and organise for the course which we hope to start in January 2019.

And apart from structured classes, day to day life at the Centre continues:

A service user came into the Centre in a panic, she couldn’t remember if she had paid her phone bill. We rang the phone company but could not get past the security questions due to memory difficulties brought on by early onset dementia. The customer service operator, desperately wanting to help, finally asked one last question, “When did she last use the phone”? I remembered she had come into the Centre a few times to look for her lost phone the previous month. Bingo! problem solved and the phone company agreed to wipe the debt.

Relief: “how about a cup of tea and a biscuit”? is another phrase you will hear often. However now that we have joined the Sugar Smart campaign we have made a pledge to reduce the sugar intake of the community Centre. This has meant big changes. In our workshops we now offer only fruit, low or no sugar biscuits. We are committed to making a difference to our community by making small changes.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who have taken their time to help out at the centre, Lyn Deering, Moni Adejumbo, Mark Serebriakoff, Pat Coyne, Linda Mallory, Maureen Russell, David Coyne, Juan Menendez, Ayee Su Tang, Marufa Benjal, Charlotte English, Avril Augustin, Eve Hardwood, Kristina and Jenny in the knitting group and of course Helen Nicholas, Val Miller, Megan Jamieson and Anwar Ghazala who all do so much.