The new Bluebells Day Care Centre was officially opened by Henley Mayor yesterday (Thursday) at the Christ Church Centre.
Bluebells is now a new charity and will offer a safe and secure place with qualified staff, for elderly and for those living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s to come and get involved in activities such as arts, crafts, quizzes and conversation. It will also offer carers some well-deserved respite.
Henley Mayor, Councillor Glen Lambert first thought about re-opening the Bluebells Day Care Centre before he was even Mayor after it was closed down in March 2018 due to Oxfordshire County Council cutting their funding to Age UK Oxfordshire who ran the centre.
The dedicated room has new chairs in bluebell colours thanks to a donation by Henley Lions and visitors can enjoy cups of tea and coffee in bluebell mugs. Former Bluebell carers, Julia Hayes and Julia Yeo have returned and have been joined by Centre Co-ordinator, Suri Poulos.
Glen said, “I spoke to Louise Hastings who works for the Town Council and who helps a couple of elderly neighbours. She put me in touch with the two Julia’s. We’ve done it in about 9 months – we started it around August time. It’s immensely satisfying and I’m very proud to see it open today. I’d never done anything like this before (founding a charity). It was a case of learning what to do and solving problems as they came up. The key thing was I’ve found a really good team of Trustees all of whom who have had a vested interest in making it succeed.”
The trustees of the charities are all local residents – Rob Lazzaro, Kim Wedderburn, David Skinner, Hannah Leamy and Glyn Millington. It has secured £30K funding which includes a £21K grant from Henley Town Council which was originally pledged and not donated to the former Bluebells and has been reallocated.
Suri Poulos who is the Bluebells co-ordinator said, “We’ve got a full large cupboard of games and puzzles for the members to enjoy plus we’ll be doing lots of singing and dancing together. We encourage and facilitate lots of conversations, make everyone feel really comfortable and the really lovely part of the day is sharing a meal altogether.”
The centre is already near capacity (12 people) on a Thursday. If it reaches capacity, there are plans to open on another day. The former Bluebells was open four days a week. The cost for the day is the same as before (£30) and includes transport to and from by the Henley Handybus and lunch. It runs from 10.30-3.30pm. Another similar centre in Maidenhead is £60/day. Bluebells is subsidised and will continue to raise funds so that the day rate can stay the same.
Glen added, “This is my last official engagement as Mayor which has been really special.”