Update from Centre Manager Paula Da-Silva

Well, what a few months it has been!  I have been on furlough since April because we unfortunately had to close the Centre due to the coronavirus pandemic.  It has been a very strange time not having to go to ‘work’ – I use the term work loosely because I love my job, it isn’t like work at all (don’t tell the Trustees I said that!).  I have missed the volunteers, the clients, the vibrant busy atmosphere – I have even missed my workload.

Aside from all of that, on a positive note it has been extremely beneficial to have time for reflection and to make future plans. I am now back in the office part-time making preparations for the re-opening of the Centre.  We are very conscious that many of our clients are in the vulnerable category so it is vital that we get the re-opening right.  As I write this we have a cleaning company in making sure everywhere is spotless and will be keeping on top of it to ensure maximum cleanliness at all times.

We recently received funding from Screwfix to enable us to update our CCTV system which has been an incredible help to us.  We have always had CCTV but we have now doubled our coverage and can access the footage from anywhere so we can keep an eye on things – and hopefully this will deter any further vandalism.  We are extremely grateful to Screwfix for their generosity which has given us peace of mind.

We have had incredible support during lockdown from various people either simply wishing us well, checking we are OK, or even fundraising for us whilst we have been unable to hold any events to raise money ourselves.  Some of the crazy things people have been doing include:

  • one of our clients, Wendy Henley dyeing her hair purple
  • a supporter, Craig Middleton, shaved all of his hair off, had his legs waxed and did his own solo fun run
  • another supporter, Andy Milford, performed live weekly DJ sets from his living room and broadcast them online for people to join in at home.

We are so grateful to these people, and everybody else, for thinking of us during this time, it really has been so difficult not being able to fundraise properly for ourselves.

We are currently in the midst of getting the Centre ready to open our doors again for our clients.  At this stage we do not know when we will re-open but we are hoping it will be sooner rather than later.    We are so excited to welcome back our amazing clients.  Obviously with the new restrictions and social distancing guidelines things will be slightly different when we do re-open but one thing we will make sure of is that we keep our warm, friendly atmosphere.

It’s so good to be back!