Day Centre for Young Adults with Disabilities Launched with Finance East Support

A business dedicated to improving the lives and experiences of young adults with disabilities has launched a new day centre and respite facility with the help of a Regional Growth Loan from Finance East. The Marigold Centre in Southend has been set up by local company, Access Anyone, to meet the demand for a centre that satisfies the needs of this customer group.

Access Anyone was set up in 2002 to provide transport for disabled young people when co-founder, Jim Milligan, recognised that the taxi firms he was working for did not adequately provide for this market. With its focus on delivering specialist services from trained drivers the business has grown to now employ 125 drivers and transport assistants, operating 61 specialist transport minibuses and four ambulances. Whilst running the transport business it became apparent to Jim and other members of the team that once young people with disabilities left school, they were not being effectively catered for by the existing facilities.

Jim explains: “We found ourselves transporting young adults to facilities that were clearly more suited to an older demographic and felt there was an obvious gap in the market for a day centre that could offer activities particularly suited to the 18-25 age group within an environment that would appeal to this younger generation. In 2013 we opened our Access Anyone@Woodside day centre in Leigh-on-Sea, which was designed specifically with this age group in mind.”

The specialist centre, which offers arts, crafts and life skills within an internet café style environment alongside an interactive garden, has been a huge success and is regularly fully booked with a significant waiting list. Furthermore, of the 450 disabled children being transported by the company  to and from school each day, there are around 35 reaching leaving age every year, many of whom wish to move on to the Access Anyone centre.

In order to meet this growing demand the company secured The Marigold Centre site in the conservation area of Westcliffe-on-Sea from Southend Council earlier in the year and has now completed its refit ready to take in the young adults who, along with their parents and carers, have been eagerly awaiting its launch. As well as providing the same popular facilities currently available at Woodside, the Marigold Centre – which has four times the capacity of Woodside – will also offer respite care facilities to allow overnight and short stay breaks.

Upon initial introduction from NatWest, the refurbishment and fit out of the Marigold Centre has been funded in part by £200,000 from the Regional Growth Loan Scheme (RGLS), managed by Finance East, along with funding from NatWest bank to support the remainder of the costs. Francis Kenealy, Finance East Fund Manager comments: “The Access Anyone management team has identified a clear market need and developed an integrated solution to meet this.  By offering a joined up approach with transport, day centres and overnight respite they are providing a unique market offering in the local area. We are pleased to support them in the launch of this sought after centre and look forward to working with them to grow their offering further.”

Jemma Openshaw, NatWest Healthcare Relationship Manager, Essex, adds: “Jim Milligan has shown true passion and determination in order to make his vision of supporting young adults with disabilities a reality. It has been a privilege to work with Jim to help support the refit of The Marigold Centre and I am delighted with the feedback that Jim has given me with respect to the introduction to Francis from Finance East. I look forward to continuous collaboration with Finance East and NatWest.”

The Regional Growth Loan Scheme (RGLS) is managed by Finance East, part of The FSE Group, on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England and British Business Bank. The RGLS is available to established, incorporated businesses based within the East of England that have a minimum annual turnover of £100k, show strong growth potential and have a medium to long-term funding requirement to deliver that growth.

For more information about the Regional Growth Loan Scheme contact Francis Kenealy on 07825 699435 or email francis.kenealy@thefsegroup.com.