Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Margate Drop In Centre

Went down to Margate again today, to visit the Margate Drop In Centre. This church hall facility is open from 10am until 3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I'd promised to come to the centre once or twice before, but sadly the diary hadn't worked out until now. Even then, traffic on Detling Hill was solid and I was half an hour late!

Many of the learning disabled service users of the centre were out and about, which of itself is good news, but there were plenty of users to chat to and find out what a very special place this is. My host was Vanessa, herself learning disabled, who works for KCC as a volunteer. At the Drop In, she's also the treasurer and the cook!

But what struck me was the confidence shown by those who use the centre. As well as the support from professionals, there's a huge amount of self help. I spoke to one chap who hadn't travelled on a bus since an accident a decade ago took his confidence away. With help from another user, last week he took his first bus ride. Other users go out to local schools to talk to pupils about hate crime.

The centre has an excellent website designed and built by service users themselves - click this link to see it - so I won't waste time repeating everything. But as well as a packed programme of activities (the users recently went on holiday to Butlins!) the centre provides professional expertise, advice and support on communication, benefits, housing, supported employment, placements, and even gives advice on personal safety, equality and diversity from the local Community Police Officer. It really is a wonderful service, and a credit ot the staff and those who use the service. I'll be back there before too long.

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