All new facility for disabled people, older people and carers

A Bournemouth charity has opened their doors to their extensively refurbished resource centre, providing much needed and vital support to disabled people, older people and carers.

Situated in the grounds of the Littledown Leisure Centre, “The Bridge” is run by the charity Access Dorset, and provides local disabled people a free Information and Advice Service, a Crisis Advocacy Service, that helps people overcome significant difficulties in their lives, employment support and on-site vocational training opportunities.

“The Bridge”, offers a new community café which gives young people with autism and Asperger’s vocational training opportunities, an advice centre to support disabled people with independent living, employment and welfare benefit advice and an enclosed courtyard which is being developed into a sensory garden.

Commenting on the new facility Access Dorset Chief Executive Jonathan Waddington-Jones said: “We were incredibly fortunate to be given a long lease on the building by Bournemouth Borough Council and with a generous grant of £50,000 from the Talbot Village Trust, as well as the support of local businesses and tradespeople, we’ve refurbished the building, created a bright, vibrant and accessible support centre”.

One of the volunteers at the café, Natalie Sherlock, 22, is already gaining new skills and support: “This is so exciting – I’m getting a real taste of work, building my skills and confidence and working in a team. We’re creating ways to reduce isolation for older people and really bringing together the different generations. It’s about us all supporting one another”. Said Natalie

“The Bridge” is already providing support and a space for other local charities to meet. Double Act Disability Theatre Co, Bournemouth Older People Forum and DOTS Disability have already adopted the Bridge as their base.

In addition to providing a space as a base, The Bridge provides direct access to information and support as well as opportunities for groups and charities to work collectively and collaboratively. The refurbishments have been made possible thanks to the support of the local grant-giving charity, Talbot Village Trust.

Commenting on the support Russell Lucas-Rowe, Trustee of Talbot Village Trust, said “It’s a real pleasure to have been given the opportunity to provide Access Dorset with the funding required to realise the potential of The Bridge. We are glad to be able to help a charity that supports so many disabled and older people in the community. Now they can receive that support in a newly-updated, welcoming setting.”