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Inspire and enable

PUBLISHED: 16:43 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 16:43 29 June 2015

Learning new skills at the Hamlet Centre in Norwich

Learning new skills at the Hamlet Centre in Norwich

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Founded by the inspirational couple Jack and Margaret Wymer, the work of Norwich’s Hamlet Centre Trust is more vital than ever, explains Rachel Buller.

For more than four decades, 
the Hamlet Centre Trust in Norwich has supported children and adults with disabilities enabling them to live fulfilled, happy and independent lives.

The charity started life as a small toy library in 1972, founded by the late Jack and Margaret Wymer. The couple were both born with Spinal Muscular Dystrophy, and they believed passionately that, with the right support network, people with disabilities could have a good quality of life, live independently and make their own decisions. These values on which the Hamlet Centre Trust was built continue to underpin its work today and are as relevant now as they were then.

Rachel Hogg, marketing and fundraising co-ordinator, says: “The service has grown and changed; we started as a toy library, which we still have, but it offers so many more vital services for local families. We are incredibly proud that the charity has helped so many people in the county. In the past few decades, children who wouldn’t have survived into adulthood years ago, are now living long, positive lives; however, they often have far more complex medical needs and it is essential our services can reflect this. It is a really positive place and I think, while demands are ever changing, it very much remains what the Wymers wanted it to be.”

The charity had delivered all of its services from its base at Ella Road in Norwich, but in 2011 its children’s department was moved to a new premises on Johnson Place. Last autumn, the charity added a new branch to its services there – The Hive.

“It is a drop-in service where parents can come for information, advice and support from the point of diagnosis of their child,” says Rachel. “It is a nice place to sit, talk and have a coffee and they can speak to other parents and care practitioners. It can be really bewildering during those early days and this can really help break those feelings of isolation.”

The Hamlet Centre provides children’s services from birth to 18 years, offering basic education, the toy lending service, play and advocacy, arts and craft sessions, personal development and leisure activities. It also offers extensive services from Ella Road for young adults with complex health needs or learning disabilities. The charity gives them opportunities to express themselves through a range of activities, including art, music, IT, sport and gardening. For those with profound disabilities there is also a new sensory lounge.

In October, the Hamlet Centre will hold its first fundraising ball which will have a fun 1950s theme. “It is the first time we have ever organised such an event and we are very excited,” says Rachel. “We hope it will not only raise vital funds but also increase awareness about the work of the charity.”

Tickets cost £40 for the ball at Sprowston Manor Hotel on Saturday, October 24; call 01603 751675 or visit www.hamletcentre.org.uk

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