Report on The Jenner Centre by Moira Robertson at the AGM
One of the driving forces for developing the Jenner Centre was to show that, in preparation for a move to the Brechin Infirmary Site, BHG could respond to local need and actually do what we had been talking about for some time. The plans grew from comments we gathered from local people about the problems of distance and transport they had in accessing the support they needed. This initially was centred on cancer, as a mini Maggie’s Centre, but we wanted to include other challenging health conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, MND as well as serious chest and heart conditions.
We needed to identify premises, which was not easy, which came to be known as the Jenner Centre after Drs Eric and Zelda Jenner who were GPs in the town between 1953 and 1983. We planned to welcome not only patients but their families and carers who needed a local, comfy, welcoming space where a listening ear, a friendly face (and a cuppae and a biscuit) would be on hand to offer support.
However, Covid-19 arrived and seemed to call a halt to all these plans; we couldn’t offer a Drop-in centre because of the distancing guidance.
But what emerged was the growing need to support people who were suffering from the repercussions of the virus, whether it be through the illness itself, isolation, bereavement, financial and employment problems, with the overarching issue of mental health.
We were fortunate to find the former Santander Bank building and with much support from the owner Andy Edgar we were able to secure an initial 6 month rent from July 2020. Councillor Kenny Braes helped us locate surplus office furniture and through social media we acquired 3 wipeable settees.
Our purpose is to provide accommodation where agencies and organisations could offer their services. Since August we have hosted an increasing number of these who were keen to provide their services locally, something they’d been unable to do before, meaning their clients had had to deal with distance and transport problems.
This much needed support is provided at present, at least once weekly, by
NHS Listening Service
Communities Team, IT for complete novices,(devices supplied by the Scottish Government)
Angus integrated Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services (AIDARS)
Tayside Council on Alcohol (TCA)
Glen Clova and Glen Isla Projects, Justice Team (women)
The Community Justice Team (men)
Hearing Aid batteries replacement – 2 Trustees to soon train for doing repairs
Soon to join us will be
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), much needed support for families
Young People’s Health, Hillcrest Futures
Youth and Family Mediation, Relationship Scotland
Those keen to join us when Covid guidance allows them to work face to face
Kathleen Seivewright, Private Counsellor
Plus we’ve had interest from ( for non-clinical surroundings)
The Social Prescribers based at Brechin Health Centre (BHC)
Mental Health Peer Support worker, also based at BHC
Citizens’ Advice Scotland
Outreach from Dundee Maggie’s Centre
Brechin High School Community Charities Committee
We don’t stick to 9-5 Monday to Friday, so if anyone needs to meet their clients in evenings or weekends we can accommodate them.
Although we can’t function as a Drop-in centre at present, we have found that people see us a source of information and we have been able to connect them with appropriate sources of support. Sometimes just having spoken to one of us, is enough for them to feel someone cares. The NHS Listening Service has been especially helpful in this respect.
We can make the premises work for us at present, however they are not ideal in the long-term. As you will realise from all I’ve said, we are likely to outgrow the Centre before much longer, making the need for a move to the Brechin Infirmary site more and more important.
There are always 2 of us in the Centre when it is being used (most mornings and afternoons) and although we cannot be a Drop-in, I would urge any of you who haven’t visited the Centre, to give the door a push as you go past. We’d happily show you around (in 1s and 2s), offer you a cup of tea or coffee, and then you can help us spread the word.