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A woman said her daughter has every right to be part of society. We made sure she could be

A mum-of-four who was scared her daughter was becoming 'isolated' has created a safe place for her and others like her to meet.

Debbie O'Brien, from Huyton, struggled to find a day centre where Jodie's complex needs would be met - and where she could learn to socialise more.

So she decided to create her own - and is now turning the old Natwest Bank in Prescot into a day centre for adults with disabilities and complex medical needs.

Debbie said: "We actually felt quite isolated because of the lack of services and divisions that I felt able to put my daughter into.

"We didn't know exactly which way to turn.

"There are a few services around, but they don't have the facilities that we needed."

Jodie, 25, has has multiple health needs, including cerebral palsy, severe learning developmental delay, encephalitis, Lennox Gastuat syndrome, short-term memory loss, cirrhosis, kyphosis, osteoporosis, hypopituitarism, edema and a rare disease called panhypopituitarism.

She is not able to express her feelings but after a while her family started to notice a change in her behaviour.

Debbie said: "We did notice Jodie becoming a bit more reclusive and refusing to go to certain stuff because she didn't feel comfortable doing it."

"Jodie has life-threatening illnesses and a rare disease so she needs a unique personal package."

Debbie's eldest daughter, Becky, 26, also has a learning disability and is borderline autistic, but is high functioning.

Whilst looking for a day centre six years ago, Debbie was given the opportunity to set up her own club for adults and their families in Kirkby.

She named it Al's Club, after her late father, and it was through there that she met a fellow-mum Andrea Evans, who soon came on board as a director.

Wanting to make a change for other families, Debbie and Andrea are now transforming the former Natwest building on Eccleston Street, Prescot, into Al's Activity and Respite Centre.

Due to open at the end of October, it will provide a bespoke service for adults aged 18 and over with disabilities and complex medical needs.

Debbie said: "Our life has changed dramatically. It's given Jodie another purpose and a focus in life.

"We provide a service that benefits the adults with disabilities. We give them a chance to be part of society because they have every right to be a part of it and some people don't feel that way, they feel isolated.

"It's going to make a massive impact on the community as a whole, from the residents of Knowsley to the surrounding areas."

Work inside the premises has already begun. Al's Activity and Respite Centre will offer an aromatherapy room, sensory room, music therapy, a mini gym, health and well-being sessions, a mini library area, a chill out zone, a learning zone, arts and crafts, cookery sessions and more.

It will also have a nurses' bay with a registered general and learning disability nurse on base at all times, and offer a gardening project with support from a local church.

Debbie is hoping to work with more local businesses in the future and said the centres main priority is to provide choice.

She said: "It's a dream and we want it to become an actual reality now.

"We are still looking for help to get it refurbished, and anybody who can come and decorate it and bring life to the old bank.

"Right now it's quite vibrant and stern. We want it to be bright, alive - full of good energy." 

Debbie said the team has already received dozens of donations and support from neighbours, businesses and Knowsley Council.

She said: "It's been overwhelming.

"When you know you've got the community and people wanting to support you, it makes a big difference and that's what's driven us further."

The day centre can cater for 20 members and costs £65 per person, which will come from the individual's Government-paid benefits.

Debbie said the former bank will also be available to other community groups to use in the evenings from 6pm till 9pm and will have subletting offices upstairs, which have already gained interest.

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/what-one-former-natwest-building-16858536

stella Posted on September 24, 2019 14:01

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