Press Release for Centre 81 Great Yarmouth

Inspiring vision for Great Yarmouth's community groups
Great Yarmouth's leading community groups are joining forces to make the borough the most disabled-friendly place in Britain. At the heart of their plans is a landmark centre packed with cutting-edge facilities to help people with disabilities to lead fuller lives.

The initiative was unveiled at a meeting called by Centre 81, which is negotiating the acquisition of the Mildred Stone House residential care home in Lawn Avenue from Norse Care. Residents there are being moved to a brand new home in Gorleston in June 2014.

Centre 81 runs a skills and activities centre for people with a range of disabilities and a fully-accessible door-to-door community transport service from its site in Tar Works Road, next door to Mildred Stone House. It has outgrown its current home and wants to move and share Mildred Stone House with other charitable and voluntary organisations to provide a variety of complementary services and facilities for its members and the wider community.

A number of organisations who were present at the announcement expressed their support.

Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, said, "This is a wonderful opportunity for organisations to collaborate in a beacon project that will transform the lives of people with physical and other disabilities.

"There will be nothing like it anywhere else in the country and it will set us on the road to making Great Yarmouth the most disabled-friendly place in Britain.

"We have lots of excellent charities and voluntary groups in the borough who provide really important services. This is our chance to bring many of them together under one roof to offer a fully-integrated range of services, not just for people with disabilities but for the whole community."

The project's delivery group is looking at options for funding the acquisition and conversion of Mildred Stone House, which is currently a 32-bed home in Lawn Avenue caring for elderly people, including those with dementia. Changes in social care provision will see residents moved to a large home currently being built, freeing up the site for an alternative use. Centre 81 would like to see it transformed into a facility that can be used by the whole community.

Plans for the centre, which is five times the size of Centre 81's current premises, include fully-accessible facilities such as activities rooms, computer suite, fitness studio, restaurant, workshop, training and seminar rooms, specialist bathrooms and, possibly, a theatre. Centre 81 said it would welcome suggestions for other facilities that could be included.

People with disabilities and their carers will also be able to get advice from a range of partner organisations based at the new centre.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, said, "This is an inspirational project that will change the lives of people with disabilities across Great Yarmouth. I am very proud that local groups are working toward a new facility unlike anything else in the country. I look forward to watching the centre progress over the next few months."

Trevor Wainwright, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said, "This is a really important project and I hope the whole community gets behind it.

"Centre 81 provides valuable services for people with disabilities and is demonstrating real foresight in not only expanding its operation but welcoming other organisations to share its vision. The new centre will be a shining example of how community organisations can work together to create something truly inspirational."

Mildred Stone House

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