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Hailey Centre in Sawbridgeworth in plea for people to donate Christmas hamper items for its elderly users

A popular centre which provides a lifeline for the over-55s has issued a plea to the community to donate items for a Christmas treat for its visitors.

The coronavirus pandemic means Christmas events will not be able to go ahead at The Hailey Centre, so manager Kerry Reynolds is reaching out to the community of Sawbridgeworth to help.

Kerry said: “We would normally benefit from our various fundraising events throughout the year and kind donations from others to keep us ticking over and providing the services we do for centre users.

The Hailey Centre welcomed back guests at the beginning of September (42737795)
The Hailey Centre welcomed back guests at the beginning of September (42737795)

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to hold any Christmas celebrations and large gatherings this year, so I would like to ask for your help to donate a small gift so we could make special Christmas hampers for all of our elderly and vulnerable centre users.”

The centre was closed for six months after the lockdown was imposed in March, but reopened with reduced activities on September 2.

“It was so lovely to see everybody back,” said Kerry. “We’ve had a full house every day for lunches and we’ve even had new people turn up.”

The centre is hosting its lunch club on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, exercise classes on Tuesdays and its legendary bacon roll and a cuppa or a cake on Thursdays.

Kerry said some people were concerned about coming out, but they were reassured by the precautions being taken at the centre, which include scrubbing the halls daily and disinfecting chairs and tables. Guests are asked to download the NHS app and scan the QR code when they enter.

Despite staff being furloughed, the centre continued to provide support for its users during the lockdown, regularly phoning them to ensure they were doing OK.

Kerry said that some of her users had been venturing out, meeting in cafés in the town, but they had missed their friends at the centre.

She revealed businesses in the town had already offered their help with regard to her plea on Facebook and donations were already coming in.

The centre is looking for the following items:

  • Luxury hamper items, such as packets of biscuits, chocolates, mince pies, Christmas puddings or store cupboard essentials;
  • Gloves, hats and scarves (all new please);
  • Puzzle books, hand creams, bubble bath and shower gels (all new and unused please).

Anyone wishing to donate can drop items into the centre, which is based at Sayesbury Manor, Bell Street.

To find out more about the activities being held at The Hailey Centre, which must be booked in advance, contact them on 01279 721221.

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