Dove Centre keeps up vital support

The Dove Centre in Oban.

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Oban’s much-used Dove Centre is planning a positive future after COVID-19.

The centre in Stevenson Street had to shut its doors when the coronavirus crisis hit, but despite lockdown its workers are still supporting as many people – if not more – than before.

This week chairman of Oban Hospice Ltd David Entwhistle sent a message to the community to let people know help is still available to those in need.

And with plans to set up a new befriending scheme later in the year, Mr Entwhistle has appealed for people to help fill a funding shortfall.

‘Inevitably coronavirus has put somewhat of a stop to the efforts of our hardworking fundraising arm The Friends of Oban Hospice but our work at the centre still continues. We’d encourage people, if they can, to give donations we rely on.

‘We are still supporting 55 to 60 people a week and our men’s and women’s groups now meet up on WhatsApp,’ he said.

The centre’s two workers Peter Darling and Lucy Hunt are keeping in contact with service users and others needing a chat or advice, and they have been helped by volunteers and therapists too.

‘The centre will reopen as soon as it is safe and following government advice, but it’s likely to be a gradual process which means the WhatsApp groups will probably have to continue for a while and it might be just one or two people coming into the centre with face masks, but it’s important we let people know, even those who have not come to us before, that we are here for them now,’ added Mr Entwhistle.

He said fears about COVID-19 and anxiety over lockdown had ‘frightened’ a lot of people. ‘This virus  does not respect age or condition, it’ll go for anyone and that has quite frightened a lot of people, adding to worries they might’ve already had. No one who would benefit from the Dove Centre needs to go without our help at this difficult time,’he said.

It costs about £75,000 a year to run the service, including salaries funded by the community’s generosity, it gets no money from the health or social service.

One of the most recent grants it secured was £10,000 from the Crerar Foundation to employ a lymphodema massage therapist.

Just before lockdown, the centre was due to meet with the Highland Hospice at Inverness to find out more about its successful befriending service, which it plans to use as a model for its own later in 2020.

To contact the Dove Centre for help or to make a donation call Peter Darling on 07483 116185 or Lucy Hunt on 07592 633251.