Going back to Paul's Place
DISABILITY charity Paul’s Place is planning to reopen its Coalpit Heath day centre after having to shut for the lockdown.
Government guidelines introduced in March meant that the charity, which provides social activities to help physically disabled adults connect with other people, improve their health and develop new skills, had to find new ways to support people.
It set up the ‘Paul’s Place at Home’ project, with staff and volunteers keeping in regular contact with the 200 adults they support every week, through phone calls and daily online meetings as the isolation brought by lockdown had a "worrying" impact on many people's mental health.
Paul's Place chief executive Daniel Cheesman said: "I am really proud that we have continued to stay in touch with people and we now have a new and much-loved service in ‘Paul’s Place at Home’.
"The reality is that for many physically disabled people the impact of lockdown has been life-changing.
"People are naturally worried about their physical health, but it is the impact that we have seen on people’s mental health that has been the most worrying. Paul’s Place at Home, has meant that people have stayed connected with others and it has become a real lifeline for people."
With the lockdown restrictions changing Paul’s Place is planning to reopen face-to-face projects. Staff have already started to make home visits, and small groups of people are meeting, socially distanced, in community spaces.
Daniel said reopening the day facility was a "huge responsibility".
He said: "We are excited to be opening again so that we can see people and offer our much-loved service. Safety is the number one priority and when we reopen things will look a little different. "Like all businesses we are complying with the social distancing requirements and have put in place things to help us manage this. We are working closely with our members to ensure that with any changes, we keep the essence of Paul’s Place."
This year is Paul’s Place's 25th anniversary year and the charity had several fundraising events planned, which had to be cancelled or changed.
Virtual events, including a fortnightly online quiz and a virtual cream tea, have been taking place as the charity, which provides over 9,000 support sessions a year for disabled adults, works hard to secure new funding
An emergency appeal has been launched via fundraising website JustGiving. Details of how to donate to the emergency appeal, which has a £25,000 target, and of all the charity's services can be found onlineat paulsplace.org.uk.