A mum has come up with a sweet idea to fund-raise for the group that helps care for her disabled daughter.
Elaine Mitchell, manager of Thorntons in Church Square Shopping Centre in St Helens, will be raffling a giant Easter egg and running a teddy bear naming contest at the store.
The funds raised will go to Connecting Together – a care group set up by three women who pooled their funds after taking redundancy from a council-run centre.
Elaine’s daughter Vickie, who now goes twice a week at Connecting Together, had been a regular at the Broadmead centre in Warrington for 18 years.
The 37-year-old has walking and learning difficulties and relies on both a wheelchair and zimmer frame to get around.
Elaine said: “Broadmead changed to accommodate only those with more severe difficulties so Vickie wasn’t able to go anymore, though she’d been going every week for so long.
“There were staff changes too and three of the ladies who worked there used their redundancy money to set up Connecting Together in Golborne. They asked if Vickie would like to go along and, as she has known them for so long as well as all the other people who attend, making the transition was easy for her.”
Elaine has nothing but praise for the staff who care for her daughter there.
“They genuinely care for her and love her and you can tell that in everything they do,” said the mother-of-two from Ashton-in-Makerfield.
“They’ve known her for such a long time and they do so much with everyone. They have craft sessions, go out for lunch, put on a panto at Christmas and visited the safari park too.
“They keep their brains busy, make sure everyone is enjoying themselves and understand all their different needs as individuals.
“They value what Vickie says and get her to do things in her own time and her own way.”
Now delighted that Vickie has a safe and stimulating environment in which she can spend two days a week, Elaine is determined to do whatever she can to help the group’s founders.
She is urging customers at Church Square Shopping Centre to pop in to Thorntons and buy a raffle ticket for the large chocolate egg she is giving away, as well as trying to guess the name of the teddy bear she also has as a prize.
“Tickets are £1 each for the egg,” said Elaine. “It is a large 850g one and we are also asking people to try and name the teddy bear for 50p a go.
“I’d like to raise as much as possible for the centre – £200 would be great, but anything will help as it’s all for such a good cause,” she added.
Catherine Sudworth, Barbara Logan and Lorraine Birchall launched the Connecting Together centre and all worked together at Broadmead before starting the business.
“Things there were changing and they were focusing more on those with very complex needs,” Kathryn explained. “There were going to be several people who wouldn’t be able to attend anymore and there were some staff redundancies available so it seemed like an opportunity.
“We’d all been doing it for years so we thought we could set up a centre ourselves and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.
“Between the two units we can cater for more people now, as they are left to concentrate on the more complex ones and we can look after the others, all of whom we’ve known for so long anyway.”
The women are equal partners and after time in a church hall have since expanded into a unit on the Golborne Enterprise Park with 18 clients on their books.
“That includes 16 who came with us from Broadmead,” said Kathryn. “We’ve done everything ourselves so far and not had any funding so it’s lovely to hear about what Elaine is doing.
“I was really shocked at first but we can’t thank her enough.”
To buy a raffle ticket or guess the teddy’s name, call in to Thorntons at the Church Square Shopping Centre in St Helens and for more information on the Connecting Together day care centre visit www.connectingtogether.co.uk.
Church Square Shopping Centre is open daily and home to a range of big name stores – such as H&M, Fat Face, River Island, BHS, Boots and Superdrug – along with independent retailers plus the busy St Mary’s Market.
Details on what’s happening at the centre at www.churchsquaresthelens.co.uk or visit the Church Square Facebook page.