Our Place is a group that was set up by staff members of a former service that shut down several years ago. It aims to provide a social atmosphere and activities for service users and is mainly based at The Priory Campus in Barnsley.
However, Our Place was left in trouble after the service which provided the group - Royal Mencap - decided to close it. But Kerrie Whiteside, of Barnsley, and another staff member decided to continue to run the group - which was rebranded as Our Place in July of 2017.
“We really didn’t want to give up on the group at the time,” said business manager of Our Place Kerrie, 38.
“Some of the service users had been attending for around 20 years or more and the group meant so much to them. We couldn’t let them down and leave them with nowhere to go.”
Staff and service users had a big Club Tropicana party to celebrate at the main hall in Priory Campus, Pontefract Road.
The group has more than 50 members and all of its service users are over 18. Kerrie said the group has really helped its members to become independent and gain confidence.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work and determination by staff members to get to this point but it feels like a huge milestone to reach two years,” said Kerrie.
“What makes it all worthwhile is watching our members form new friendships and strengthen existing relationships, seeing people happy, growing in independence and achieving their own goals.”
Kerrie said the group will continue to run for as long as it can, but as it runs on community funding it can be difficult.
“Any income of any kind is invested back into the group,” she said. “We received £7,538 in January this year from the lottery fund which is to help pay our rent, music licence and other small business expenses.
“For the future I just hope to be able to continue the group for as long as possible really.
“It is just such a wonderful place here. The service users are always benefiting from being here. Some have been here for more than 20 years and at first they couldn’t really do anything for themselves.”
For more information on the group in general, or if you are interested in volunteering, search Our Place on Facebook.