Dianne Double, Manager of our Alfriston Day Centre announces her retirement on 3rd June, 2016. Diane gives us a look at what goes on at Alfriston and how Kaleidoscope took over the centre based in Kingston-Upon-Thames…
“I have been the Manager at Alfriston for almost 18 years; it has been a momentous, happy and rewarding time in my life. As I was shown around the Day Centre after my interview in September 1998 I knew that this was a very special place. Shortly after I was offered the post of Manager it became apparent that the charity had lost the funding due to changes being made at the local council and therefore the Day Centre would close in December.
The service users who then attended were obviously unhappy about this, so with the help of two excellent volunteers
we decided to fight the impending closure. The first step was to find another charity to take over the financial management; this was achieved by a local newspaper editor introducing us to Martin Blakebrough – Chief Executive of the Kaleidoscope Project. After visiting the day centre Martin agreed that we should not let the service close and that they would be willing to take over the financial management.
As the funding had already been taken away we needed to try to convince the council to carry on funding us. One evening in March 1999 as the council met at the Guildhall to discuss their budget, we took a coach of 40 service users and volunteers bearing signs and placards into the council chambers. It was a great success, service users were allowed to state their case to keep the centre open. They made a fantastic impression on all council officials and we
were given a very small budget which covered the rent for the next three years. Fortunately we had received a generous legacy from a previous service user and therefore we were able to continue financially.
Over the next three years, with the help of a small staff team and many excellent volunteers we were able to modernise the day centre with new furnishings. With my person centered vision, we managed to build up the numbers from approximately 10 to over 30 people each day. Alfriston finally began to be recognised in a positive light with many agencies in the Borough. After a meeting with the council in 2003 we were given back the same amount of
funding that was taken away from in 1999.
Four years ago with the help of my assistant Lisa we were able to launch the befriending service which was always part of my vision for Alfriston.
I leave my position in the hands of a very capable and dedicated
staff and volunteer team. Furthermore; I leave with the knowledge that the funding for Alfriston is secure for the next five years.
Although I am leaving to spend more time with my family and pursue other hobbies and interests, I will continue to support the work we do here as one of the many friends of Alfriston”