I left Toronto Saturday evening, June 6 on a Sunjet Holidays Charter arriving early Sunday in Glasgow. Quarriers booked me into the Village Bed and Breakfast run by Q graduate, Sheila Patterson for the Former Boys and Girls Association. Sheila welcomed me to Cottage 8 where she once mothered 13 teenaged girls. She has a few stories to tell.
I was able to attend the Sunday service at Mount Zion and chatted with Bill Dunbar. Monday morning, I was introduced to the Quarriers management team and proceeded on a quick tour of six operations.
Alison Punton, Service Director (People with a Learning Disability (West)), led me through tours of Cottage 1, setup for respite care for adults with disabilities, and another respite service in the village for older children. Both centres are well equipped for the purpose and run by committed caregivers. They provide programs of weekly and weekend respite, a delight for both children and a much-deserved break for the primary caregivers at home.
Al Edwards, Service Director (People with Epilepsy), well remembered from the Kingston gathering, took me through one of the long-term residential care cottages. Until the new Gerald Lee team took charge, residents were housed in large dormitories with little privacy and scarce opportunity for personal development. The new cottage-style living has, in the words of the caregiver-in-charge, brightened the lives of all - caregiver and resident alike. It was indeed, a happy home.
Our next stop was the Residential Assessment Unit where patient James was being wired for a 48-hour observation and assessment of his complex seizure pattern using advanced EEG/Video techniques. This unit is the only residential establishment in Scotland offering such an extended assessment process. As Al Edwards explained, the need is far greater than can be met by Quarriers alone. The Quarriers' epilepsy service with its assessment programme, long-term residential projects and a determined objective of returning many former residents to their communities with Supported Living programmes, demonstrates the leading-edge renewal of William Quarrier's pledge to plug the gaps in society's safety-net of services. It is a key part of Quarriers' transformation from an orphan/epilepsy village to a modern and vibrant charity offering a wide range of supports from more than 50 sites across a large area of Scotland.
Phil Robinson,Service Director ( Children, Families and Young People), drove me to Glasgow's Gorbals area, birthplace of many Quarriers children, to visit the Residential Care programmes of "Stopover" and the "James Shields" project. Ian Hughes, Manager of both projects, which are 200 yards apart in a crumbling neighbourhood, explained how homeless teenagers are referred to them by other agencies. They can handle about 1 in 5 referrals providing a 7-week stay and assessment at "Stopover" for some of the most troubled and vulnerable young people in Scotland. Fourteen users are provided with single-room accommodation and kitchen facilities are available for their own breakfast preparation. Following breakfast they must move on to other programmes or work. Some graduate to the James Shields project housed in a former church where 38 bachelor apartments with kitchenettes have been created. Occupants can stay a maximum of 2 years and range in age from 18 to 23 at intake. Project staff monitor their progress and provide much encouragement and basic living skills support. Dedicated caregiver Angus was preparing to take 10 residents on a holiday trip to Fort William marking, for many, their first time away from Glasgow.
Phil Robinson, you should note, is also responsible in a very busy schedule, for information and counseling to former Quarriers' children. We hope to have him with us at this year$s gathering.
Returning to Quarriers Head Office I joined in my first Council meeting along with two other newcomers swelling the ranks of the Council of Management to 12 members. The meeting, under Chairman Robin Wilson, provided more instructive insight into this sizeable operation.
After the meeting, I enjoyed a convivial evening at the Fox and Hounds in Houston (which last fall's visitors will recall), with Gerald Lee, Quarriers' Chief Executive and Tony Williams, head of Fundraising & Publicity.
I was pleased to again meet Zara Ross who is very busy implementing a new "Investors in People" programme which will demonstrate Quarriers adherence to the highest standards of employee development and professionalism in the workplace. The Human Resources component in all of Quarriers undertakings has, like just about every other activity, undergone a complete upgrading over a very short time.
Tony Williams' publicity and fundraising staff send their greetings to all. Sue Campbell and others had spent the weekend "slogging around Arthur's Seat in the downpour" in yet another fundraising drive.
Was I impressed? Let me add this rough numbers sketch. Six and a half years ago, Quarriers was on the ropes going slowly broke while employing 225 staff to fulfill 2.5 million pounds sterling of services largely provided in Quarriers Village. Today, 700 staff deliver 14 million pounds in services by 50 programmes throughout the West of Scotland and elsewhere. I saw joy and satisfaction on the faces of caregivers in every programme I visited. I met many "clients" among thousands getting new starts. This is "plugging-the-gaps" in a grand new style.
The Schoolhouse and the Village
Quarriers, respecting their heritage role in the village, are still balancing renewal with sensible village development. There is little funding available to maintain unused houses. They have sold a few houses and have two more on the market. All are on the periphery of the village and there is no plan to sell-off core area cottages. The money Quarriers raises in this way provides essential capital to start new services in the community. William Quarrier would be proud.
The Schoolhouse sale is again on hold awaiting a new assessment of the development as a result of severe flooding in the area this spring. The schoolhouse is in very serious decay and must soon be gutted. I know that many were concerned to hear of this development. No one wants to disturb the integrity of the village. However, the plan seems to suit the need. I fully support Quarriers wish to see this project completed. I have no doubt that the result will be an overall improvement to the Village.
The Maple Grove
I met with Graham Biggart, Corporate Services and Tony Williams to discuss the Maple Grove. Graham estimated that to build the memorial as originally conceived would require well over 10,000 pounds in shrubbery alone and a great deal of ongoing maintenance. They suggested a different approach involving one of the Village's disused fountains. To wit, install a plaque and a stone bench near the four planted trees as a quiet area of remembrance. These trees are planted beside the "departure" houses, a location well suited to a quiet space. Then develop an existing garden area between Cottage 2 and the Ceilidh hall, as the Quarriers Canadian Family site. Graham's gardeners would like to develop this themselves and they will arrange to re/install the fountain as a centrepiece. All believe this to be a reasonable solution giving us two locations and do/able with the money already presented for the purpose. I gave my approval subject to the wishes of the Canadian Family group.
To Russia With Love
Quarriers just received 123,000 pounds funding from the UK National Lottery Charities Board to provide advice and practical support to the Taganka Children's Fund in Moscow. Taganka is a deprived and impoverished district of central Moscow. The Taganka Children's Fund is a small Russian charity struggling to assist 350 poverty stricken families. They turned to Quarriers for advice 3 years ago. The new funding will allow Quarriers division to provide a more stable programme over the next two years. This is the Quarriers outreach programme in action.