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Bright future for Foxhall Centre Lavender Trust in Ipswich thanks to new charity funding

PUBLISHED: 14:23 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:23 20 April 2017

Staff and guests enjoying activities at the Foxhall Centre Lavender Trust

Staff and guests enjoying activities at the Foxhall Centre Lavender Trust

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A day centre that acts a social hub for more than 60 older people in Ipswich is looking forward to a bright future after securing new charity funding.

Staff and guests enjoying activities at the Foxhall Centre Lavender TrustStaff and guests enjoying activities at the Foxhall Centre Lavender Trust

Earlier this year, the Foxhall Centre’s future was uncertain after Age UK, which funded it, closed.

But determined to continue their battle to combat loneliness and isolation among the older community, the centres staff put their heads together to find a solution.

Operations manager Debbie Dodd said: “We decided we just couldn’t let it close. We couldn’t let all these people who desperately need our help down.

“So we decided to run the centre ourselves.”

Staff and guests enjoying activities at the Foxhall Centre Lavender TrustStaff and guests enjoying activities at the Foxhall Centre Lavender Trust

The staff between them had decades of experience in running services for older people and those in need of special care and had all the skill sets necessary, but what they didn’t have was the money.

“We formed a registered charity with a board of trustees and asked the Suffolk Community Foundation if they could help,” said Debbie. “As a result we received funding from The Pargiter Trust and Suffolk Minds Matter and Ipswich Borough Council, which has made all the difference.

“It’s been such a lot of work for all of us and although my job is in the office when I hear the sound of laughter coming through my door hearing our clients enjoying themselves that makes it worthwhile.”

Currently the centre, which has been renamed the Foxhall Centre Lavender Trust, opens four days a week, has 63 people regularly attending aged between 70 and 105.

Staff and guests enjoying activities at the Foxhall Centre Lavender TrustStaff and guests enjoying activities at the Foxhall Centre Lavender Trust

Some people visit for a few hours while others attend every day, but with plans for the centre to open full time from Monday to Friday the numbers are likely to rise.

Phyllis Brinkley, 90, said: “I have been coming here since 2008 and I live on my own. I really would be totally lost without it.

“Although my six children are very good to me it’s the one opportunity I have to make friends and spend time with people of my own age.”

The centre is also accessible to people with special care needs such as dementia.

Tim Holder, the Development Director of Suffolk Community Foundation said the work that is been done by Foxhall Centre Lavender Trust is vital.

“Suffolk is one of the fastest ageing counties in the country and we have 25,000 older people here living in deprivation.

“It’s not just economic deprivation either. Isolation is also a very big part of the picture so keeping places like the Foxhall Centre open is imperative.

“It means that people can continue to live in their own homes, they can mingle with people of their own age but also that carers can have some vital time to themselves.”

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