WHEN Carol Bubb’s day centre was closed down her life was thrown into chaos.
But since the closure of Hatherley Day Centre in 2010, the 54-year-old Tredworth woman has got back on her feet thanks to the help of Gloucester’s Ambassador of the Year Julie Pullen, who set up Sharp Life and Learning Skills in Quedgeley.
“When the day centre closed down I had nowhere to go,” said Carol. “I had been going there for eight years.
“Thankfully Julie Pullen and Sharp came along. I have a husband with mental illness and that is not easy so it is a great break for us when I come here.
“There are still others out there struggling. There is a real need for a place like this.”
At the centre they take part arts and crafts activities and, above all, enjoy each other’s company.
But even Sharp is facing a tough year ahead, with increasing pressures on local authority finances, meaning some people may not be able to come to the centre as often.
Visually-impaired June Sellwood, 64, said: “This is home from home and it is a big family and if something goes wrong they are always here for you. Julie Pullen is like a mother to me.
“I live alone and I write stories but it can get lonely and I come here twice a week. I’d be lost without it.”
Another client Karen Jones, 41, said: “I hear voices in my head. I have mental health issues. Coming here gives me a chance to escape from it. I enjoy meeting other people.”
The doors at Sharp are open for just about anyone – whether they just feel lonely and want to keep active, whether they have a disability or a mental health issue.
Julie, who was named Ambassador of the Year at the Believe in Gloucester Awards last year, said: “It is going to be a difficult year ahead for Sharp but we are staying positive. We have a new timetable of activities and I want to reach out to new people in the hope of keeping the numbers up.
“If I wake up in a bad mood, I come here and just seeing the smiles on their faces lightens me up. Those smiles tell you a lot – they get a lot from this place and they need it to continue.”
For more information about Sharp call Julie on 01452 690205 or 07981 857870.
CASE STUDY: MEET VIDA DOUGLAS
PENSIONER Vida Douglas is becoming a computer whiz thanks to training from Sharp.
The 80-year-old Abbeydale senior citizen catches two buses to make her way to the centre in Quedgeley.
She is Sharp’s oldest client – but she is loving her computer classes.
She said: “I have been coming for two years. I like it here very much.
“It is nice to get out of the house. I don’t want to be a couch potato and I like to meet other people.
“I didn’t really know much about computers but I have learnt a lot here and when I go home I have a practice on my laptop.”