The Fun-abil8y project at the St James Centre, in Normanton, is one of the leading groups in Derby supporting young disabled people to “live life to the MAX”.
I wrote previously that the Centre had received a £0.5m National Gallery grant to continue the programme for a further 5 years providing a fun, and learning environment for children and young people aged from 3-25 years. £100k of this funding was to completely refurbish the ground floor area to make it more ‘fit for purpose’, and to further enhance the experience for the young people.
BEFORE ( August 2015)
I first visited Fun-abil8y in August 2015, and could see that, whilst the rooms were being used as creatively as possible, substantial work was required to make it better suited for the service users. The space was originally developed from a bakery – the windows were small, high up on un-plastered walls, creating a dark, uninviting atmosphere. The kitchen facilities were cramped, creaking, and in much need of being re-designed to become more inclusive, and safer, for all people to engage in cooking. The small connecting corridors made free passage with modern, motorised wheelchairs almost impossible. And the changing facilities, whilst private, were not ideal for many of the young people attending the centre. There was no question it required a full make-over.
Janet Tristram (CEO – St James Centre), and the team, spent months considering the best layout, and developing a comprehensive bid to communicate their enhanced service vision to the National Lottery as well as other funders ( People’s Postcode Lottery, and Toyota). The bid was successful, and the main bulk of the work started in January 2017, and was concluded in March, with the formal opening on 8 April. Young people, parents, staff, supporters, and a host of other invitees were able to experience and enjoy the refurbished surroundings.
Before the work was carried out, it was never a question that the young people did not have a fun time – it is a very popular club. However, it feels now that it has leapt forwards with modern technology, new, safer, equipment, a much brighter environment, and a conservatory area which will best serve those who want to enjoy the outdoor light, but who need to be inside. The garden is yet to be completed – this will take a little more consideration, and planning to develop a multi-use, colourful, safe, place, that will maximise its use and facility. Janet is always looking out for people or organisations who can offer support in helping with funding, resources, ideas, or manpower.
The ground floor area has been named “The Hive” for all of the positive reasons that this word can generate. Everytime I have visited, it has never been quiet, the activity is constant, the fun is infectious, the staff very caring and inclusive and, most importantly, a family atmosphere pervades throughout…..a true “Hive”
“When was ever honey made with one bee in a Hive?”
Categories: Charity issues