Disabled people call for help to find alternative home for much-loved day centre

9 February 2015

  • New accessible venue needed in Maidstone or the day centre will not survive.
  • ‘Without Maidstone Resource Centre I would be back to staying in on my own and cut off from life. Help us to keep our family together,’ says centre user.

A local charity is calling on the Maidstone community to help save a lifeline day centre that has supported vulnerable people for 22 years.

People who use Maidstone Resource Centre outside the current buildingMaidstone Resource Centre is run by the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. It provides a range of activities and support to 42 disabled people who rely on it to get out of the house and meet people.

The agreement for the current premises, the Churchill Centre, ends on 25 March following a 10-year partnership. The charity has to move as Kent Community Health NHS Trust, which leases the Churchill Centre, can no longer offer the charity a subsidised rental rate. This is due to the building owner increasing the rent.

‘If a new accessible venue can’t be found for Maidstone Resource Centre it will struggle to survive. This could have a devastating impact on the disabled people who use it,’ said Pia Rathje-Burton, service manager at the centre. Pia is looking for an accessible venue — with a wheelchair-friendly toilet and some storage — that can accommodate 25 people.

She continues: ‘The day centre is a very important part of the community and it would be a terrible loss if we closed it. This is our last resort to keep it open. Please get in touch if you can help.’

Angela Sibun has arthritis and suffered a stroke. The 56-year-old has been using the Maidstone Resource Centre for five weeks and it has given her a new lease of life.

She said: ‘I enjoy seeing other people and getting out of the house. It gives my husband the chance to have some time by himself without worrying about me. I enjoy it because the staff are so welcoming and friendly.

‘Over the last five weeks I have found Angela again — not just the ill person that I was before. If the centre closes, I would be back to staying in on my own, feeling depressed and cut off from life. Please help us to keep our family together.’

Roy Pratt has been attending Maidstone Resource Centre for around 10 years. The 67-year-old, who has thrombophilia and a hole in the heart, said: ‘Going to the centre is an important part of the week for me and I look forward to it. If it closes, I will be left housebound and lonely.’

Maidstone Resource Centre currently opens three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If anyone has a space that fits the criteria, please contact Pia Rathje-Burton, service manager, on 01732 459510 or email pia.rathje-burton@leonardcheshire.org

Criteria for the new space

Please note this is ideal list of criteria, but we can be flexible on some areas: 

  • Rent the space for up to three days a week (we can be flexible on the number of days and which days of the week). 
  • We would need to use the space from 10am to 3pm.
  • Storage space — we are an activity centre so have some resources to enable us to be able to run the classes. These will be packed away at the end of the day. One option could be a storage facility in the car park.
  • A wheelchair accessible toilet.
  • A separate office space — although this is not essential.
  • Vehicle drop-off area for disabled people who attend the service.
  • Car parking for five cars.
  • Space in the building for up to 20 disabled people, some of whom are wheelchair users, along with five staff.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries please contact Amy Burns on 020 3242 0313 or email amy.burns@leonardcheshire.org. Out-of-hours: 07903 949 388. General press office number on: 020 3242 0399.