Fear turned to hope and happiness for former office worker Beatrice “BB” Burrow when she stepped over the threshold of Fosterfield Day Centre.
Beatrice explains how she feared that walking through the door meant there would be no return.
It’s a misconception which can make individuals and their families reluctant to utilise the many and varied services of a day centre.
But not to take that step can mean missing out on company, new friendships and new skills.
For Beatrice, who turns 90 next month, it was a milestone moment. She said: “I didn’t want to come in. When you are getting older you get to think staff won’t let you go home. But the staff here have been absolutely wonderful and everybody is treated the same. You don’t lose any of your dignity.”
She has been attending the Lancashire County Council day centre, since April, after being taken ill at the beginning of the year.
She said: “If I hadn’t had Fosterfield I would have been very lonely. Here I’ve made a lot of friends. I would miss it”
Fosterfield, on Eaves Lane, Chorley, provides a specialised service supporting older people living in the community. It also boasts an extra support unit for people with specialised needs, for example those suffering from dementia.
For 30 years it has been welcoming residents from the town and surrounding districts. Its aim is to provide social and recreational activities to enable individuals to maintain their everyday skills and independence.
The Centre marked its three decades with a special party when former staff and volunteers were invited along to celebrate with current Centre users. There was also an opportunity to enjoy music from local band The Travelling Mulberries.
Beatrice appreciates the particular care provided by Fosterfield and said: “I would tell anybody to come to Fosterfield because the staff don’t treat anybody different – they are so good.”
Beatrice and Margaret had been delighted to explain the difference the day centre had made to them when they joined the birthday celebration.
For Margaret Loughran,85, from Euxton, the Centre has provided support after she had difficulties with her balance.
She said: “I get time to come here and have a giggle. We’re all strangers at first. I put in my speech strangers are only friends that you haven’t yet met.”
Describing herself as “the new kid on the block” she has been visiting the centre for nearly four months.
Laura Orrell, day centre manager, said: “This was an opportunity to celebrate what’s been achieved at Fosterfield over the years.”
Retired manual worker Ken Whittle,79, from Chorley particularly appreciates the spacious garden at Fosterfield where visitors can join in horticultural activities. He said: “I have a garden of my own but I can’t do it at present. I can’t manage it. I’ve had problems with mobility.” Describing the garden, which includes vegetables, flowers and a potting shed, as “perfect” he said everyone’s contribution helps create the garden.
He added with a smile: “I started coming in May. It’s a fantastic place and I’ve asked can I stay and sleep in the shed!”
Ken awards top marks for the food and the company.
Inside the Fosterfield entrance there is a beautiful stained glass style window which was decorated by a then service user back in 2003.
A can-do attitude pervades the centre during my visit, with lots of activities, ranging from baking and exercise classes to visiting speakers and trips to attractions such as Blackpool Illuminations.
Although it may not be possible to go out to visit food and drink makers in Lancashire they can be invited in - to give a talk on their company’s history. From bakers to black pudding and cheese makers, the list of VIP visitors grows. The garden is the scene of the centre’s latest fund raising endeavours.
Shelley Wilkinson, senior care officer, explains some £1,800 was raised at last summer’s Fosterfield fete, to pay for a bespoke potting shed with access for wheelchair users.
She reported that some of the clients arrive depressed, do some gardening: “and now they are all doing their own gardens at home. It’s having a very positive effect. I think we’ve got potatoes, carrots, sprouts and a raised bed. The garden is our pride and joy. As you can imagine they are very pleased with it.
“The next project is a summer house in the extra support unit garden.”
At this year’s fair, which will be held on September 30, it is hoped to sell some of the produce grown this summer. Regular public bingo events also raise cash for the Fosterfield Amenity Fund.
Fosterfield organises taster days for individuals.
Shelley said: “Sometimes it’s not just about coming here, but doing other things.
“People think it’s only for people who have certain needs and can’t be at home. But when they come here they realise a lot of people are quite independent. They like to socialise with other people here and get involved in different activities – it’s like a big family. At the end of their first day they definitely want to come.”
She pointed out that the centre’s service means family members who may have main caring duties can get a break or chance to do shopping and other jobs.
Visitors may spot three decorative signs which hang on a wall in the centre ... “Love Beyond Words”, “Live Every Moment” and “Laugh Every Day”.
Timely words of wisdom for anyone who attends or works at a day centre.
* The county council runs 13 day centres, including the Lady Elsie Finney House Day Centre at Cottam and centres at Kirkham, Leyland, Clitheroe and Lancaster. Fosterfield can be contacted on 01257 275183.