Christmas has come early for users of the Brandon Day Care Centre following revelations that a new operator has been found.
The centre, in Warren Close, provides a lifeline for families from as far as Mildenhall and Lakenheath, but was facing closure at the end of the year if new funding was not found.
Jamie Lawrence’s father, Keith, has multiple sclerosis (MS) and uses the centre five times a week.
Mr Lawrence, 47, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, brilliant news – an early Christmas present for us all.”
His niece and nephew, Eadey and Stanley, collected around 1,000 signatures for a petition which was handed to the current provider, Orbit Housing, and ultimately led to the deadline for withdrawal of services being extended by three months.
Mr Lawrence said: “As a family, we fought hard to keep the centre open and I do wish to thank Matthew Hancock (West Suffolk MP) for his support and the hundreds of others who signed the petition.”
New operator Empanda Care & Support, a Community Interest Company formed in April, will be taking over the centre from January 1.
It will continue to provide care for vulnerable people, as well as respite for carers, and plans to increase community involvement by making use of the centre’s catering facilities and offering apprenticeships to young people.
Sally Hanlin, Empanda’s managing director, said: “We are excited at the prospect of revitalising and developing the centre into a vibrant community space that people can be proud of. Our first priority will be to put strong foundations in place to help us to turn our aspirations into reality.
“The staff team, customers, key partners, supporters and the local community will play a huge part in the future success of the centre and we are looking forward to working in partnership as we start this journey together.”
Mr Hancock, who had vowed to do all he could to help save the centre, described it as a ‘vital asset’ and said it staying open was ‘wonderful news’.
He also welcomed the plan for greater use by the community and congratulated those who campaigned and fought so hard to keep it open, as well as those who raised the £250,000 to have it built in the first place.
Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for adult care, said: “We are pleased that there will be no break in service as a result of this negotiation.”