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Client activities

Broomhill Festival

Ben’s Centre like many charities, is dependant on the generosity of the public to help fund the centre and its activities. Our finances aren’t the healthiest at the moment but we are miraculously managing to get by and we do wish to thank everyone who has donated. This week sees the opening of the Broomhill festival (11th-20th June.) The festival is organised by a committed group of local people who have chosen Ben’s Centre as one of the four charities the festival will raise money for this year. This is a wonderful boost, not only to our finances but also to Ben’s Centres moral. It can feel like an up hill battle trying to survive in the voluntary sector. It is therefore so encouraging to be chosen and our work valued by others in the community.

The Festival opens with something for everyone, a hog roast on St. Mark's Green, followed by events and activities for all ages from concerts, talks and an art exhibition to five-a-side football, a family fun day, a garden party and lots more. (

On Saturday 19th June, 2pm St Marks Broomhill garden party will be held we are planning to have a stall and we have been busy making greeting cards to sell with some of our service users. The girls in particular have loved using our new sparkly gel pens and created some lovely cards. Wendy is on the look out for a service user who is willing to volunteer or possibly she may just commandeer someone to help in the kitchen and make cinder toffee to sell too. Cinder toffee is great fun to make which involves a chemical reaction from the bicarbonate of soda and the glucose which makes a frothy foaming mixture that’s creeps along the tray when all the ingredients are heated and mixed together. Once it is set it forms into a crunchy honey comb mixture that is tasty to eat.

Tomorrow we are off to Castleton with service users to see Derbyshire’s unique Blue John, visiting one of the caverns. I’m sure this adventure will be retold in next week’s blog.

Pool Table

We have a really good pool table in the Centre. As we pursue other activities we are gradually weaning clients off the idea that this is all they can do! Many would just love to come into Bens and read the paper, play pool and perpetuate a ‘pub’ like atmosphere but without the alcohol! Having said that the pool table is a place where often clients unwind and begin to enjoy themselves. Life is hard and clients often forget how to have fun and laugh. So we value the table and the part it plays in our client’s lives.staff& pool table09 009

As you can see our table needs recovering desperately, and it is amazing to see how it has lasted so long, especially when clients use it so often. This is very costly and in the grand schemes of things at the moment other essential items like food, our rent, and staffing take priority and there is no money left in the pot for this. We have had many discussions with staff and clients too how we could get this table recovered. None of the ideas as yet have materialized but we are hopeful that one day one will. Have any of our readers any ideas? We would be open to any suggestions and look forward to hearing from you. There has to be a way to get this recovered and hopefully we will find it with your help.

Staff laugh at me a lot...

Staff laugh at me a lot as I tend not to remember where I have left my reading glasses and I do the usual squint which helps me to focus more clearly…and find my glasses! It’s hard when you can’t see very clearly and it can become very frustrating too. I have mentioned before that one of the most valuable things we have ever done in the Centre was to go and buy a selection of reading glasses and allow the client’s to use them. They have become very popular and have opened up many more ways for the clients to become independent, using the telephone and filling in forms, and also to engage with activities too. Unfortunately glasses get lost and broken easily when you are intoxicated, so our supplies are dwindling rapidly. Clients are able to have an eye-test and a free pair of glasses every two years on the National Health Service with the benefits they are on. But the prescription pair, although obviously more suited to clients, tend to go the way that the ones we give out do.

Walking into the Centre this morning our wall of stained glass was looking so beautiful and has been a real success with our clients. Although not finished yet it is a lovely example of client’s enjoying an activity and has brought out some hidden creativity in many.

Mondays are our big crossword day. It’s a hard one to complete as the prize is £1,000. It has become a group activity and what we don’t manage to finish today, Edwin, our volunteer on Tuesdays usually manages to complete. We have yet to win the money!

All these activities are good and are made more enjoyable when the client can read the clues and see the activity in front of them clearly with the glasses we provide.

So very soon another trip to purchase some more glasses; [any bought glasses in the range of 2-3.5 would be greatly appreciated. We cannot accept prescription glasses]. In the meantime today’s activities are out in our little garden. We are going to plant some bulbs as the weather is so glorious. It also speaks to us and our clients of hope and expectation, as we know in the Spring we will have a beautiful colourful display.