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More Volunteers Required As Summerhaven Moves To Park Centre

21st August 2018 | By Peter Chapman

Summerhaven, the mental health support group who've been running drop-in sessions at the Old Post Office on Station Road since August 2015 are once again looking for new volunteers having made the move to larger premises at Park Centre by St John's Park.

BHU featured Summerhaven back in November 2017 when the group were struggling for volunteers. The public response was brilliant, but now even more people are needed as the service grows in their new location.

At Park Centre there's many distinctive areas on the ground floor and the hope is to have enough volunteers to cover all the areas. There's the kitchen area, a seating area with tables, a games area with pool and table football and a large lounge area with big sofas.

I went along to Park Centre last Sunday for the group's first session in the new location to speak to both the service users and the volunteers. The lure of cake had nothing to do with it whatsoever....

I met Sam, she's been volunteering at the group for the past 9 months - directly because of BHU's appeal for volunteers.

"When I saw it advertised, I thought 'that looks like an interesting thing to do' because I've never done volunteering before. I personally feel that I'm in a lucky position in life, so I thought 'why not give my time to something else?'." she said.

The role of a volunteer isn't anything too taxing as Sam explains.

"We always play pool together, do a quiz, sit around and chat and have a cup of tea. It's just a social group really."

What of the commitment?
"I do two hours every fortnight, that's four hours a month. It's not a massive amount of time out of my diary and it's local. If you didn't have volunteers then you wouldn't be able to run Summerhaven and that's really sad as the members like to come here with their friends."

Another volunteer is Liz, she has an autistic grandson who goes to college, so had a compelling reason to want to help Summerhaven.

"When my grandson gets older, he's going to need people to help him, so I just thought it's a way of giving something back. If people don't volunteer, then there's no one there for anyone, is there?"
she said.

Like Sam, Liz volunteers every other week for two hours on Sunday.

So why did Summerhaven choose to move? Janice Henwood, a lead volunteer at Summerhaven told us more.

"We got quite anxious when we saw the big 'For Sale' sign put outside the old post office building, so then we started looking around and pushing to get into Park Centre.
We had a write a lot of letters. Park Centre was meant to be for the community use and not just for young people up to the age of 26."

The move to Park Centre has certainly been an upgrade for Summerhaven.

"There's more facilities, extra space, more room for games, a better kitchen and even the toilets are better. This place is actually heated, so it'll be nice and warm come the winter. We would have to go a few hours early to the Old Post Office just to turn on the electric heaters as it was freezing in there.

"The opportunities for what we can do at Summerhaven have certainly opened up through being here"
Janice said.

But what do the service users think of Park Centre as the new home of Summerhaven? I spoke to Mark.

"There's a lot more space and a lot more room to do what you want to do. We've got bigger sofas and a good kichen and we hope to cook in there soon." he said

Mr Pope is another service user and he's delighted with the change in venue.
"I love it, it's great, my favourite part of being here is definately the pool table. It's good to have consistancy and routine, most people need to have that. I also love the table football, I've just thrashed the pants off someone! I used to have one of my own when I was younger."

How To Be A Volunteer
Summerhaven are looking for a commitment of at least one session per month, even if just for a few hours. No experience is necessary. The sessions run every Sunday from 1pm-5pm.

If you'd like to volunteer at the sessions, please contact Janice Henwood via either of these email addresses: summerhaven1@outlook.com or davidhenwood@talk21.com

Spread the word! The Summerhaven Mental Health Drop-In Centre are looking for more volunteers.

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
Could you spend a few hours per month volunteering at Summerhaven?

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