Friday, 15 December 2017

Centre for children may expand to take adults

ADULTS may be offered the use of the Chiltern Centre for disabled children in Henley.

Paul Barrett, chairman of trustees, told the charity’s annual meeting that the centre off Greys Road was considering expanding to include 25 to 60-year-olds within the next two years.

He said: “At the moment we offer services to children and young people aged up to 18, or 25 in exceptional circumstances.

“We are about to undertake market research to see if there’s room for us to offer adult services as well because there’s an area of unmet need for 25- to 60-year-olds. It could be that in a year or two we need to change our name because we won’t be catering just for disabled children.”

Mr Barrett also told the 20 guests at the meeting about the centre’s work in the past year, including paying off its mortgage loan to Henley Town Council and completing refurbishment of the toilets, kitchen and offices at the centre. The meeting re-elected him as chairman of the trustees and Stefan Gawrysiak, who was Henley mayor last year, was elected to the board of trustees.

Mr Barrett said: “Stefan was a most energetic mayor and we were fortunate enough to be one of his mayoral charities. We are sure he will bring that same energy to the board.”

He said the centre had lost a number of staff, adding: “We found ourselves in a position where we were not as well staffed as we would want to be.

“Our director of services, Marion Lee, has been absent and we had to learn how to steer the ship without our captain. We hope she will be able to return as soon as she is able to.

“We have recruited a registered manager for the centre in Keith Manning, who started in January and has done a great job.”

The centre will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a dinner at the Henley Business School in November.

Last year, the centre launched an awareness and fund-raising campaign to mark the anniversary.

The charity wants to increase the number of regular givers and friends who help to organise fund-raising activities.

Mr Barrett said: “I think it’s an amazing achievement that we can sit here today and look back at 10 years of providing care to more than 85 families in the Thames Valley area.

“The staff here have done a tremendous job and are often unsung. I would also like to thank the board of trustees, South Oxfordshire District Council, Henley Town Council, the Henley Standard and the whole Henley community for taking us to their hearts.

“It’s because of them we are able to stay open.”

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