Tuesday, 9 July 2019

California here we come!

IT'S all about California this week - not the land of the Beach Boys, oranges, LA and, rather more topically and worryingly, earthquakes - but a California a lot closer to home.

For this Friday, July 12, a garden party is being held outdoors at our centre for adults - California House - to mark the reopening of this revamped and extended vital facility situated in California Road in Kingstown, Carlisle.

An appeal was launched back in September 2017 and now, almost two years and £200,000 later, we are all set for Carlisle MP John Stevenson and our chairwoman Christine Bowditch to cut the ribbon on Friday to officially reopen the centre which can sleep up to five adult service users at a time.

Taking place between 12 midday and 3pm, the party will - weather permitting and as I write the forecast isn't too bad! - be held in the spruced up gardens at California House. Spruced up big-style last week thanks to the marvellous Give A Day To The City Week initiative which saw teams from Carlisle College - who last year took part in the same initiative but by doing up the gardens of our Grace Little Centre for children - and the Gillford Centre in Upperby, Carlisle, ably assisted by some of our staff and service users, building new summerhouses, painting fences, dredging the pond and planting flowers.

So a huge thank-you to those people involved and also to Cochranes Nurseries in Longtown who donated many colourful plants to the project!

First opened 23 years ago, California House provides respite care for adults. The purpose of the facility is to support guests who are having a short break from their family home, to enhance their independent living skills, and also their social and emotional skills. One of the main priorities is to support the client to become involved in community activities of their own choice.

Carlisle Mencap’s chief executive officer, Sheila Gregory, said: “California House is a vital facility, providing care for up to five adults at a time. This extension and refurbishment work means we can provide excellent, state-of-the-art facilities including a new sensory room with overhead projector and a fabulous kitchen/diner. We are very grateful to all those trusts, foundations, groups and businesses who helped fund this much-needed revamp and refurbishment. And we look forward to showing off the new-look California House on Friday.” 

Carlisle Mencap would like to thank the following for their financial support with regards the California House project: Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Clothworkers Foundation, Cumbria County Council, Garfield Weston Foundation, Hadfield Trust, Key Fund, Newcastle Building Society and Wolfson Foundation.

Meanwhile, speaking of Give A Day To The City which I was earlier, Carlisle Mencap did their bit this year by helping in the transformation of the Portland Square area off Warwick Road in Carlisle.

Joining forces with others including teams from Cumberland Building Society, Trinity School and Carlisle City Council, team leader Rebecca Carey, member Bex Aitken and my good self donned the protective gloves and joined in the painting of the metal railings surrounding this garden area.

And this also leads us nicely on to hearty congratulations to Bex and our CEO Sheila who were nominated for The Cumberland News Community Heroes Awards. And, at the prestigious awards ceremony at Carlisle Racecourse last Thursday, Sheila won the coveted Person of the Year category while Bex was Specially Commended in the Volunteer of the Year category.

So we've been making the headlines for all the  right reasons recently and long may this continue - and let's hope we have some true California sunshine to beam down on us this Friday as we enjoy the garden party and reopening.


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