Care home opens community centre with the help of the Prince’s Trust

A group of unemployed young people organised a tea dance to celebrate the opening of a new community centre in North Wales.

The event at the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham was the climax of an “inspiring” three-week programme called team Truth about Youth – Who Cares? which is funded by The Cooperative Foundation.

The course was run by the Prince’s Trust in partnership with Pendine Park’s training arm, Smartcare.

Pendine Park is throwing open its doors to the wider community, particularly older people, by providing a meeting place and somewhere safe and warm where they can get together socially.

The Gwern Alyn Community Centre at the Hillbury House Care Home was officially opened by Mayor of Wrexham, Cllr David Bithell, and guests were served a feast of sandwiches, cakes, coffee and tea by the enthusiastic team of 14 young people aged between18 and 25.

The dedicated group also performed an energetic, funny, and thoughtful play about remembering the little things when taking care of people.

The event ended with the tea dance which saw Pendine Park residents and staff, as well as the crew from The Prince’s Trust strutting their stuff.

It was the culmination of a three week course where members of the group gained experience and qualifications in the care industry with the aim of helping them onto the first rung of employment ladder.

Malcolm Crosby, 82, whose beloved wife Audrey was a resident at Highfield Care Home, Pendine Park from 2007 until she died a year ago, thinks the community centre is a great idea.

He said: “I think this community centre is wonderful.

“It is a further example of the quality of Pendine Park that they’re always looking for improvements in the wellbeing of everybody. I’m sure I’ll be coming here for a cup of tea in the future.

“I’m still connected with Pendine Park, I still get invited to the support group. I’m quite active on that.

“The whole ethos of Pendine stems straight from the top and it permeates right through the whole organisation.

“I know how difficult it is 24/7, and I was looking after somebody that I loved. But the care that they give to the residents is really wonderful.

“All of the family and friends who have visited have always said how wonderful the place is.

Mayor of Wrexham, Cllr David Bithell said: “Council services are under pressure so having a new community centre opening is really positive.

“The community centre another plus for the area. It will bring people into the centre and they can get together which is absolutely wonderful. It gives them the opportunity just to come here for a cup of tea and a chat, and make friends.

The Prince’s Trust supports 3,500 young people in Wales each year through its programmes. Three in four young people supported by The Trust move into work, education or training.

Among them is Nathaniel Wells, 23, who spent 12 years caring for his mum Mary who died in March aged 59.

He said: “It has been tough for the past year but now I hope to move forward and work in the care sector.

“My mum suffered from epilepsy, mild arthritis, asthma, various disabilities, early menopause, she also suffered from bi polar disorder.

“It was suggested I go on this course because of my experience of being a carer.

“My experience with my mum helps me empathise with people. My mum couldn’t move, she couldn’t go up the stairs. We moved everything downstairs so her bed was in the dining room.

Nathaniel, who previously studied art and design, media studies, and catering and services at Yale College, which is now part of Coleg Cambria, added: “Here at Pendine we’ve been on courses to help us with communication, and we’ve been on job placements.

“It’s been brilliant – absolutely fantastic. I really enjoyed it. It’s not like other training courses. Here you learn on the job. It’s very interactive. The training wasn’t just learning from a chalkboard.”

Fellow team member Nicola Evans, 18, from Rhos said: “I loved the residents, they were nice. They put a smile on your face.

“I was bored when I was unemployed, and I came here and I wanted to do it. It gave me a reason to get up in the morning. I think the community centre is nice. I think it’s a very good idea to open up this place as a community centre to help people.”

During the course, specialist staff from Smartcare trained the group in all aspects of care for the elderly including manual handling, protection of vulnerable adults (POVA), health and safety and infection control.

Catherine Seymour, Programme Executive at The Prince’s Trust, said: “The Truth about Youth programme forms part of The Co-operative’s commitment to inspiring young people and works with young people to help them to access training and engage in community projects.

“This project gives young people the chance to prove that they have a huge amount to offer employers as well as their local community. Young people are often portrayed in a negative manner but Truth about Youth gives them the opportunity to show what they can achieve.”

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE, said: “We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to combine the graduation of 14 young people from the Prince’s Trust who have been with Pendine with the support of the Cooperative Foundation through the Truth about Youth programme. I have to say it has been a great experience for our organisation.

“We want to open the space to the wider community, and we’re going to work with a number of charities.

“It’s an example of the independent sector taking its responsibility seriously to work within the community.

“This is our first community centre. It may not be the last.  We believe it is a worthwhile initiative at a time when there are cuts in public services and we hear of voluntary services and even community centres being closed or threatened with closure.

“This is another opportunity in a small way to do something that is good for our community and the people who live in it.”

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