Haverhill townspeople got their first look at the St Nicholas Hospice Care outreach centre when it opened its doors on Saturday.
The public flooded into the Burton Centre, Camps Road, to see the transformation and speak to staff and volunteers from the hospice about what will be on offer.
Adrian Williams, chairman of the board of trustees, said: “What a fantastic turnout on this day – a special day in the history of St Nicholas Hospice Care and Haverhill.
“Thirty years ago this month St Nicholas Hospice Care started. It started its work serving those with life-shortening illnesses.
“It is a source of real pride and joy that, as part of this birthday, we are opening this brilliant facility – the first outreach centre in our area.”
He added: “We believe there is no better place than Haverhill to start this outreach strategy. The Burton Centre will be a beacon of true community support in this town.”
The building has been decorated and designed to be a calm and friendly social environment that is friendly to people with dementia.
The public can visit and use the area downstairs freely – the community room can be hired out while the Haven Café will open from 9.30am-12.30pm on weekdays.
Upstairs will be used by the hospice to offer services including clinical referrals, group therapy sessions, complementary therapies and bereavement support.
Haverhill mayor Cllr Roger André, said: “Everyone I meet in Haverhill tells me a story of someone they know who has benefitted from the help of the hospice.
“That the Hospice has
had the confidence to invest in us is wonderful. And where else could you find a setting so
appropriate to the work of the hospice.”
Cllr André described hospice patient Denise Griffin, who cut the ribbon of the Burton Centre, as an example of what the hospice has done for many people.
“I bow to her hope and strength,” he added.
Denise, of Haverhill, said: “I’m a patient using St Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury, which is 20 miles away as we all know. On a good day that’s not too bad, but sometimes it is very tiring.
“People who use the hospice know it is very beneficial. You come away with a good attitude.
“Everybody’s always cheerful. It is not a place that’s morbid. It is a hive of activity.
“This centre, for me and the people of Haverhill, is fantastic. For us to be the first in Suffolk – we’re not the poor relation, we’re the first - is great.
“This is not just for the people and families who need these facilities – it is for the town.
“There is also a coffee shop – spend your money here and the money goes into the hospice.”
Councillor Jenny Antill, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for property, said: “When we started this process, we recognised that the Burton Centre wasn’t being used to maximum effect and went out looking for an organisation with a sustainable plan to make the most of the building.
“Today is proof positive that, in St Nicolas Hospice Care, we have found what we were looking for.
“I’m delighted that important outreach services are now going to be delivered from the centre to people in Haverhill and the surrounding area.
“This is a good day for the town.”
The Burton Centre is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. There will be appointments for patients with doctors, nurse-led clinics and the physiotherapy team.
The registrar will continue to be based within the Burton Centre every Thursday, while the large community room will continue to be used by a number of local groups.
The project was made possible thanks to a £326,000 NHS England Help the Hospices grant received by the hospice as part of capital grants for improving hospice environments; a £25,000 grant from the Garfield Weston Foundation; £2,000 from the Suffolk Community Foundation for
physiotherapy and complementary therapy beds and Suffolk County Council handover funding.