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Charity celebrates ‘fantastic’ ratings

Huntley Ave playroom

A CUMBRIAN charity is celebrating fantastic ratings from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

Carlisle Mencap, which provides services and support for more than 500 adults and children with learning disabilities and their families across Cumbria, are delighted after Ofsted announced it has rated its Huntley Avenue children’s centre in Penrith as ‘Outstanding’.

Meanwhile, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills also revealed that it rated Carlisle Mencap’s Grace Little Centre for children in north Carlisle ‘Good’, and ‘Good’ was also the verdict of the Care Quality Commission after its recent inspection of the charity’s adult respite centre at California House, also in Carlisle.

Sheila Gregory

Carlisle Mencap is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and its CEO Sheila Gregory was thrilled with the ratings. “As the appointed person legally overseeing all of these services I am so pleased with these ratings,” said Sheila, who this month celebrated 20 years as chief officer at the charity. “We exist as an organisation to provide safe quality care for Children and Adults with learning disability. I am so pleased this has been recognised by the regulators – who very rightly expect us to keep to very high standards. All of our staff team and trustees work tirelessly to provide good outcomes for vulnerable people. I am so delighted all of their hard work has been recognised.

The Huntley Avenue centre in Penrith has been open more than 30 years. It has five bedrooms and more than 40 children regularly use the centre which this year received a £10,000 boost courtesy of Windermere-based English Lakes, Hotels & Resorts to refurbish its sensory room and to upgrade play equipment for the garden.

Craig Scott, manager at Huntley Avenue, said: “I am a very proud manager and absolutely delighted for my team and all the families that use our service.

“I like to think we are a very homely service and the children enjoy their experience and make new friends whilst they are here. Short breaks are an integral part of the support some families need when they have a child with a learning disability. It can give parents a much needed break whilst at the same time provide the young person with new experiences and give them an opportunity to mix with their peers.”

Carlisle Mencap have recently been contracted by Cumbria County Council to provide this Penrith Service – which was previously directly run by the council Mrs Gregory said she was very pleased that this new arrangement had worked out so well . She very much wanted to thank Cumbria County Councils Children’s services team for excellent support in helping Carlisle Mencap to ensure the quality of the service.

Carlisle Mencap’s Grace Little Centre  and has four fully accessible bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen along with an activity room with IT suite, a large garden.  Carlisle Mencap raised £1million six years ago to create this state-of-the-art Children’s centre which is still mainly funded by public donation and grants.

Its manager, Stuart Cowper, said: “I am delighted that the Grace Little Centre was awarded a good from Ofsted.

“The hard work, commitment and the efforts that the staff team have put in day in day out has been second to none to create the best possible experience for the children staying. Being awarded a ‘Good’ is a reflection of the efforts of the Grace little Centre team and confirming the improvements and steps forward the Grace Little Centre is continuing to make.

“The staff team ensure each child or person who comes though the doors is meet with the upmost respect and assists each child to have the best possible stay at the centre.”

Scott Henry, the manager of the recently extended and refurbished adult respite centre at California House, was very happy with the Care Quality Commission’s rating about the site, in north Carlisle which has five bedrooms, sensory equipment, a new kitchen, TV lounge and large garden.  Carlisle Mencap has just invested £200,000 in up grading and improving this project. Scott said: “I am delighted with the rating as it is a great reward for all the hard work.

“On a personal level it’s the second we’ve achieved in a row in my time here, but it couldn’t be possible with our amazing staff team who are vital to the structure of the service and they’ve worked hard and its paid dividend. There have been lots of hurdles over the past 12 months we have had to overcome and continued to provide a good service to families. We have lots of plans to enhance the service moving forward. I look forward to an exciting future with California House.”

Christine Bowditch, chair of Carlisle Mencap said: “I am so delighted with these reports all of us at Carlisle Mencap are dedicated to getting the very best possible care for people with learning disability. This excellent reports from regulators justifies all the hard work of our very dedicated staff teams.”

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