The Haven in Forth was a hive of activity last Thursday and Friday.
For one year after they opened the doors to a new, purpose-built facility, staff welcomed back funders, clients, volunteers and members of the public to celebrate its first birthday.
In just 12 months, the Haven has helped 160 people in the Clydesdale area who have life-limiting illnesses, their families and carers.
The centre is aptly named as it is a haven for people dealing with illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s and dementia.
Based at 36 Manse Road, it has two nurses who provide emotional support to clients, two therapists who offer an extensive range of services and seven volunteers who are on hand to provide a listening ear.
They are ably backed up by three staffers in the office who handle the day to day running of the centre.
Among their number is Karen Boyd, the Haven’s community engagement co-ordinator who helped organise the birthday plans.
Karen was delighted to welcome funders back to the centre on Thursday to thank them once again for their support.
She said: “We invited all of our funders and board members along on Thursday, as a thank you for their support and to let them know just how much their funding has helped people across Clydesdale.
“Dr Rosalie Dunn, our founder, also came along to cut our celebratory birthday cake and to personally thank the funders and volunteers.
“She also gave an update on the progress we have made in the last year.
“From April 2017 to March 31 2018, we have helped more than 160 people at the Haven in Forth – 79 clients in the centre and 83 clients through our Haven at Home service, for people who can’t make it along to Forth.
“On Friday, we held an open day from 10am to 3pm and the whole community was invited along.
“It was a really successful day with many who had never been to the centre before getting a chance to see our facilities, without it being a formal appointment.
“It can be quite daunting for people to come here for the first time so it gave people a chance to get a feel for the place and meet the staff – 65 people attended.
“Some of our clients came along too which was fantastic as, after all, the Haven is all about them.”
And that’s certainly clear to anyone who visits the centre, which offers a range of services for clients and their carers across the Clydesdale area.
The wide range of services, tailored to suit each individual’s needs, include complementary therapies, workshops, counselling, therapeutic arts and a lending library of books, CDs and DVDs.
The Haven also boasts a number of support groups aimed at children and families, men and carers living with dementia.
While the Haven is in the process of recruiting more therapists, Karen admits that volunteers and the local community also provide a tower of support.
She said: “Our volunteers are really important to us as they ensure the smooth running of the centre, making cups of tea or coffee for clients and being there to lend a listening ear.
“A lot of our volunteers have had life experiences or been in similar situations so can really empathise with our clients.
“We’d love to hear from anyone who would be interested in volunteering with us as we couldn’t do what we do without our dedicated volunteers.
“The local community has also been extremely supportive, taking a keen interest in what we do and regularly attending our events or fundraising.
“That support is invaluable to us and we’re very grateful for it.”
Thanks to everyone who attended the open day on Friday and took part in the raffle and tombola or bought home baking, a further £590 was raised to help support the charity’s work.
Karen said: “We received great support from local businesses who donated a number of different prizes so we’d also like to thank them for their support.”
With the dust now settled on the birthday celebrations and the new centre well and truly bedded in, Karen said clients are delighted with the new surroundings.
She added: “In the flat, we were limited in what we could offer clients.
“Our new purpose built centre has all the space we so desperately needed.”
To volunteer or for more, call 01555 811846 or visit www.thehavencentre.com.
From a flat to a purpose-built centre
The Haven was the brainchild of Dr Rosalie Dunn who opened the first centre in Blantyre in May 2002. Jessie Griffin and Elizabeth Wilson from Forth attended the centre and benefitted so greatly that they were determined to provide a similar service in Clydesdale.
This led to the Little Haven opening in Forth in 2005; in 2014 it formally became part of The Haven.
As its services grew, it became apparent that the community flat it operated from in Manse Road wasn’t big enough.
So a purpose built Haven centre was mooted. The initial funding of £340,000 to get the build underway was granted by The Levenseat Trust – its largest ever grant. Money was also contributed by SLC Renewable Energies Fund and The Roberston Trust.
Councillor Catherine McClymont lent her support by working with the council’s estate officials to identify a suitable council-owned derelict site in Forth opposite the community flat.
And a business case was made for a reduction in the rental price to £1 per annum.
The new centre officially opened in April 2017.
The Co-op in Forth, the Wolfson Foundation, RS MacDonald, Muirhall Energies, Big Lottery Fund, SDF SSE, Lanarkshire LEADER programme, Aspiring Communities Fund, Life Changes Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation and South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership have also offered financial or on-going support to the Haven.
A registered charity, the Haven provides support to people affected by a range of life limiting illnesses, as well as their family and carers.
With centres in Blantyre, Wishaw and Forth, it operates on a self referral basis. All services are free and completely confidential.