Yes it's me, Jacs, Madam Chairwoman :-D I have a lot to tell you. WE WON THE PEOPLES MILLIONS....wooohoooo! What a day that was! I cried....quite a bit actually, the emotion of it all just came tumbling out, we started our journey in February and it had been hard work, once I pulled myself together we all danced and cheered very loudly. We were on TV again accepting the cheque and the tears came again. The cheque was huge and 7 months on is still stuck to our coffee bar.
So....what have we done with the money. Well, after numerous going wrongs with trying to claim it, we finally got there. The down side of it all was that we got burgled twice, we think people thought we had won and somehow the money was on site, or we'd bought something worth stealing, but the burglaries happened Jan and Feb but we didn't get the first lot of money until March and that was in the bank. With the first lot of money we paid for an alarm system, 4 more cameras for our cctv, an Epos system till (the burglars stole our old till) the front cobbles stone forecourt to be dug up and relaid as brickweave, kitchen equipment and a new computer for admin. next on the agenda is a smart board and an add on to the new Epos system so we can have memberships.....watch out for our membership deals, we're quite excited about these. Another thing we have started to pay for is 2 members of staff to be employed to run the coffee bar, these are Becky and Nathan. Becky is mornings and brings fun and laughter to the Centre, making things lively and perks up our day. Nathan is more sedate and helps calm things down for the afternoon giving a chilled atmosphere to wind your day down nicely.
We had some sad news that one of our regular service users passed away, this is Martin. He came to us daily for 2 cups of Cuppacino and a good old chat to everyone. R.I.P Martin, the Centre is not the same without you.
If you come into the Centre now, you will see we have been busy. My brainwaves have been let loose again, the staff run for cover when that happens! One of those brainwaves was after the hand washing sink was fitted, we were left with a large piece of work top so I thought, hey, lets extend the coffee bar.....genius don't you think....eyes started rolling because I may have these brainwaves but I can't do them myself but Jackie our shop manageress can...she's amazing, give her a screwdriver and a hammer and Bob The Builder move aside. Off she went with her husband Charlie and by the end of the day, the counter had been extended....what a gem. Then, even more impressive, she went to British Heart Foundation and brought back 2 glass fronted display cabinets (Thank you BHF) She then strategically placed them in the shop area and covered the top with yet another piece of counter top we had just lying around, (ok, it was actually in use out the back.....but we'd address the that being missing later) it was even cut to make a corner. What a woman! The smile on her face when she got out the spirit level and it was all as it should be, was priceless. We now have a new pink till with sparklies on it for the shop area. There's 2 reasons for a shop counter and til. 1, it stops people taking second hand goods to the coffee bar where food and drinks are being served and 2 it helps our work experience people feel more like they're learning how to be in a shop environment. We have Teresa, Paula and Dean manning that till now.
We have had The Ashley School youngsters come to us for work experience recently. Unfortunately, by the time their assessor had come to do a risk assessment on us, it was too late to let them have a proper work experience time but they have managed 2 weeks which has been fun. What a great bunch they have been too, they have shown enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. A few have asked to come back in the summer hols to carry on which is great.
Another great thing we have done is get involved with "Talent Match" This is where the government pay the wage of a youngster to work somewhere for 6 months. We found Bryn through this scheme and he has been great. We have him doing Admin on opposite shifts to Ben and it's working out so well that we have him looking for funding for us to keep him going.....and yeay!....he's found some, not only for him but for Becky and Nathan too. We're in the process of applying for that so fingers crossed.
I would like to also share with you the 13 of us took an 8 week course recently on "The principles of working with people with learning disabilities......and we all passed,....yeay! well done us. It wasn't easy and we were all pleased that we did the same training together, we had a choice of about 10 different courses and Ben's brainwave was that for our first, maybe we should do the same thing so we could help each other....good call, it was a lot tougher than we expected but we al did it. I am so proud of our team. We are regathering the troops to decide which courses we're going to take now......we're getting brave because we're going for different ones...eeeek!.....I have every faith we will all do well.