Before Centre 81, I would only leave my house occasionally to go up town. I come here for the company and to do things I wouldn’t usually do at home, such as cooking. In the past I was angry about having a disability and the way I was treated. Centre 81 arranged a counsellor and for the first time I felt there was someone there for me without judging me. I am now beginning to accept who I am.
A horse riding accident left me with a physical disability and brought me problems with money and accommodation. The centre helped me move somewhere more suitable and to get my finances in order. They treat me like family. Before Centre 81 I used to be depressed because I was disabled and people took no notice of me.”
When a massive stroke took away my life as an active and important member of the marine industry, I found it difficult to re-enter society on the level I was used to. Since becoming a member of Centre 81 my eyes have been opened to a different world. It has provided a haven in which I can be comfortable with people of similar disabilities and difficulties within their lives. I am not made to feel guilty because of my ongoing illness. No one person is treated with any special consideration but all are equal.
It wasn’t just me that had a stroke, it was my whole family.
“It’s wonderful seeing people achieve what they want – even something we might take for granted. I was a labourer on the docks for six years but always wanted to work with children with disabilities. But this opportunity came along and I love it here. The training is superb. I love helping people and giving something back but it’s also building a career for me.
I don’t think my marriage would have survived without Centre 81. Richard and I were isolated at home with nothing to talk about and a decreasing number of visitors. I cared for him after he suffered a stroke following a series of fits. I hated what he had become. Now he enjoys being at the centre each day and I’m back at work so we have things to talk about afterwards. It’s given me my life back and I didn’t even know the centre existed before.
As a volunteer at Centre 81 I have the opportunity to support other Centre 81 members ‘out and about’ in the community. My volunteering has given me a social life.
For a long time I’ve wanted to help other people and I found out about the centre from the website. I get great fulfillment from making people happy and helping them achieve what they want. I help with the activities and days out, shopping trips and show visits and I’ve become one of the shanty singers. I look forward to coming here; it’s not work; it’s social.
I love it here, the people are brilliant, not just the staff and volunteers but the members as well. I think of them as my brothers and sisters. I swim and have become one of the shanty singers as well as taking up art – with some of my acrylic work now displayed on the walls of the centre.