Portsmouth day centre for people with learning difficulties will have to close if money can’t be found

Jenny White
Jenny White

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MANAGERS of a day centre for people with learning difficulties have called for help to save it from closure.

They say the Cornelius Centre in New Road, Buckland, will have to shut its doors for good if money cannot be found to keep it afloat.

The centre’s chairwoman, Jenny White, said its closure would be devastating for people with disabilities throughout the region.

Ms White said: ‘It will be catastrophic if we have to close.

‘It’s the only proper day centre for people with special needs and learning difficulties around here.

‘There isn’t anything else like it in the city.’

The centre was founded in 1993 and used to operate five days a week, but can now only afford to open twice a week.

The centre runs activities including dancing, music, crafts, quizzes and art for people aged 18 and over.

‘It’s not regimented, people can just come in whenever they like,’ Ms White said.

She said some mornings saw up to 50 people take part in activities and socialise.

The centre was funded by volunteers raising money through jumble sales, discos and other events, but no longer has enough to make ends meet.

Ms White said the centre needed to find £1,500 a month to stay open.

‘It seems like a lot but it’s not when you think of what we provide,’ she said.

Ms White said that she had applied for funding from the National Lottery and other sources.

She said: ‘We’ve been unsuccessful each time. It’s really disappointing.’

‘I employ a manager and another person to help out.

‘Other than that it’s all done by volunteers and we have 10 people on the committee.’

Ms White said the centre attracted people from as far as Gosport and Hayling Island.

‘Sometimes it is difficult working with vulnerable people but it can be so rewarding,’ she said.

‘They all have something to offer and a lot of them have a wonderful sense of humour.

‘We hope somebody will be able to help us.’

Ms White said anyone who was able to volunteer, organise a fundraising event or sponsor the centre could call its manager, Karen Pett, on (023) 9273 3224.