Centre for over-50s opens its doors for the first time

The opening day of the new Age Concern Great Yarmouth Acorn centre on Regent Street in Great Yarmout

The opening day of the new Age Concern Great Yarmouth Acorn centre on Regent Street in Great Yarmouth.(l to r) Lady Joyce Hopwood with Jackie Tierney.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

After years of planning, a new building especially for the over-50s has opened its doors.

The Acorn Centre in Regent Street held an opening ceremony on Monday, with dozens turning up to take a peek at the new hub.

Jackie Tierney, the services manager at Age Concern Great Yarmouth, has helped spearhead the project since the start and was thrilled with the reception the new building had already received.

She said: 'The centre is somewhere that anyone over 50 can come and feel comfortable,' adding it was a 'one stop shop' for the older person in the borough.

As well as being a place to drop-in for a tea or coffee, the building will also host activity sessions such a line dancing, table tennis and quizzes.

'We do not provide all of the services ourselves, but we are a link between all of them,' said Jackie, who started working with Age Concern in October 2010 when she was employed as an older people's development worker.

'Every time we wanted to put on an event we were having to go out and use other people's venues.'

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She explained it was an added cost for the charity, and after exploring other options such as moving into larger office space, they decided to open up a central shop-front location so people would see where they were based.

The organisation has around 60 volunteers but needs more to be able to offer a full range of services.

Jackie said: 'Volunteers are absolutely essential for this to be a success – they are the nuts and bolts. 'They can come in fresh with no experience. A lot of volunteers do not realise the skills they have which they can share.'

Sarah Lee, a finance administrator for the organisation, said: 'You always hope people will turn up, but the support we have had from locals has been amazing.

'The centre was set up to help elderly people, a lot of whom are lonely.

'If this centre was not here then there would be nowhere else to go, and the alternative is to sit at home and watch television.'

Rachel Hardie, the charity's older people's development worker, said: 'Transport is an enormous issue for older people, so the centre being directly situated between two bus stops and being accessible throughout is a big bonus.

'I think loneliness and isolation is becoming a big issue for older people. One of the main problems is losing your social contacts for whatever reason and you lose a lot of confidence.'

The centre was officially opened by Lady Joyce Hopwood, chairman of the Norwich Older People's Forum, who unveiled a plaque.

Mayor of Great Yarmouth, Shirley Weymouth, was also in attendance, and she said: 'I think it is lovely how many people have turned up. It is all run by volunteers – it is just fabulous. Hopefully the people who have come in will carry on coming and work to maintain it.'

Anyone wishing to volunteer can drop-in to the centre on Regent Street, or call the office on 01493 262052.

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