Sunday, 16 February 2014

Louise Hamilton is looking for Friends !

We all need friends and the Louise Hamilton Centre at the James Paget Hospital has just launched a Friends organisation to give local people a chance to feel even more involved in the work and fund raising for the centre which has seen over six and a half thousand people come through its doors since opening in March.

A gold badge has been designed for the new Friends which is in the distinctive butterfly shape, the now familiar symbol of the Louise Hamilton Centre.

The distinctive yellow £1.5 million eco-friendly building at the corner of the JPH was completed on time and on budget in December 2012 and was officially opened by the Princess Royal at the end of April, just over a month after it started welcoming those needing its services.

The building – the result of an architectural competition and fund raising from the community  – is intended as a place of peace and calm where those with cancer and other life threatening conditions, together with their carers and others who may be affected, can receive help and support. A team of over 50 volunteers helps to staff the centre which is open seven days a week and into the evenings. They work closely with the professionals, including the Macmillan nurses, who are based there.

As well as a whole range of advice and support other regular groups include two choirs, one for carers and the other for people with respiratory problems; a dementia cafe, bereavement group, art and complimentary therapies and benefits help. ‘The list is growing.’ says Palliative Care East Appeal Co-ordinator Maxine Taylor. PCE is the independent group which spearheaded the project and now maintains it.

‘There are so many ways that people need help, it may be specific advice or an activity or it may just be the chance to have a chat and cup of tea. Often people don’t realise they are carers, and they too need support to look after a loved one. We can provide all of this and more,’ she said.

‘The Centre was built thanks to the fantastic efforts of the community of Great Yarmouth and Waveney and it continues thanks to people’s fund raising and support. We are well on course to meet the annual running cost target of around £130,000.’ said Maxine, explaining that this money was entirely for the centre, not any other JPH facilities.

 Major fund raising includes the annual themed autumn ball, a moveable feast in June and regular auctions. The annual Embrace sponsored walk will this year be part of the Gorleston Clifftop Gala in July. Alongside that are the constant fund raisers organised by other individuals and organisations, including the Yarmouth Rotary Club Town Quiz which takes place at the end of February.

‘People are hugely supportive of what is being done here, and we’d like to give them the chance to feel even more closely associated by becoming Friends of the Louise Hamilton Centre. The idea is for people to feel they have an even more personal involvement and are part of what we do.

‘Friends membership will include the gold butterfly lapel badge,a car sticker, regular newsletters, information and events. It’s another way to support the work,’ said Maxine, explaining that the cost is £10 a year for individuals or £25 for a family of four.

‘It is estimated that something like 2,700 people in our area receive a diagnosis of cancer or similar life threatening conditions each year. We are here to try and help them in whatever way we can and launching a Friends organisation is another strong way of supporting what we can do for those who need us’ said Maxine.

To find out more about becoming a Friend of Louise call in or contact Maxine Taylor at the Louise Hamilton Centre on 01493 453100 . The Centre is open seven days a week from 8.30 am to 19:30 pm weekdays; Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am to 15:30 pm.