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Changing lives – how Centre 81 helps

Posted on May 13, 2016

Life changed for Richard Jex – and his wife Mary – when he suffered a stroke eight years ago.

It left former hospital cleaner Richard with balance and mood swing problems – and meant Mary became his carer.   “We were stuck in the home – looking at and hating each other,” said Mary, 55.

“He was falling a lot and afraid to go out in case he needed help. I was not managing, and was blaming him for stopping me getting out and about.”  But Centre 81 has transformed the Southtown couple’s lives again – for the better.

Richard, who also suffers from epilepsy, started visiting one day a week – and now goes five times – enjoying a range of activities from art to bowling.

It means Mary has her own time too, and she admits “I have got a bit of life back.” She gets counselling to help with her carer role, including dealing with the emotions that go with it.  And she has become a fan of the centre, where she is a fundraiser and a regular volunteer.

“I get so much from pleasure from seeing Richard and the other members smiling,” Mary added.

“Richard has really gained in confidence since coming to Centre 81. For him it is like going to work – with qualified carers to keep him safe if he fits or falls. There is a special bath where he enjoys relaxing away his aches and pains.

“I have got a bit of life back, and help dealing with my anger,” said Mary who has been married to Richard for 36 years.

“I had not heard of the centre before we were referred there by social services, but it is a hidden gem,” she added. “The rebuild is essential because there is a need for more space and there are so many more people who could come here and benefit from its services.”

Richard said: “I really like all the activities here and the help I get. It is like one big family.”

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