City charity Spire Preston has new Glovers Bar location for its Club 98 weekly social for people with learning disabilities

A small Preston charity with a big heart welcomed a surprise guest to the official opening of its new Club 98 ... the Deepdale Duck.

The Preston North End mascot was the VIP guest at the official opening of Spire Preston’s weekly club night for people with learning disabilities .

Maxine, Martin, senior support worker Adam, Carl and Stephen at the opening night of Club 98

Maxine, Martin, senior support worker Adam, Carl and Stephen at the opening night of Club 98

The mascot had been invited along for the first Spire social at a new venue, Glovers Bar, because many of the people Spire supports are keen PNE fans.

Club 98 at 43, Glovers Court, Preston, will be held each Wednesday from 6.30pm – 9pm and offers those with learning disabilities an opportunity to socialise and enjoy a night out in a bar with music, karaoke and a weekly raffle.

The event, which was formerly known as Kolor Bar, has moved from the Bull and Royal.

Its new name was chosen by the club goers as a tribute to the Spire charity, which was founded in 1998.

Susie Lowde and Adam Karodia of Spire Preston

Susie Lowde and Adam Karodia of Spire Preston

Adam Karodia, senior support worker with Spire Preston Ltd, which is based at Derby House, Lytham Road, Fulwood, said: “It is a big event in the learning disability calendar. People look forward to it.”

Spire manager Susie Lowde said the event was especially important because people with learning disabilities can struggle to access bars for a night out and this is an opportunity to see friends, socialise and feel safe.

Those attending can come alone or with a parent, friend or carer and many travel from a wide area, including Blackpool, Chorley, South Ribble and Wigan.

Susie added :“One of the benefits of having things like Club 98 is because there are so many funding cuts happening at the moment and people in general are having their care packages reduced. This offers an opportunity where people can get out themselves and feel safe in doing so. Things like this are essential in the current climate of social care.”

Susan with Deepdale Duck at the official opening of Club 98

Susan with Deepdale Duck at the official opening of Club 98

She added: “At the event we also offer volunteering opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to develop their skills. We have them assisting with DJing and taking money on the door and doing the raffle.”

Entrance to Club 98 is £3.

What is Spire Preston?

Spire Preston's origins go back to a group of parents who, aware they were not getting any younger and may one day not be able to care for their adult children who all had learning disabilities, looked for a better way to ensure their children could have the future their parents wished for them.

Stephen and Carl volunteering at Club 98

Stephen and Carl volunteering at Club 98

With advice and assistance the parents formed a group to become a not-for-profit charitable organisation which now provides care and support to adults who have a learning disability. A National Lottery award enabled the establishment of an administrative office at Preston Business Centre on Watling Street Road in 2000. One of those parents was Dave Prince, who has been the charity’s chairman for 19 years. He and wife Doreen are both trustees.

Their son Martin,51, is supported by Spire to live in a house with others with learning disabilities.

Dave said: “We’ve gone from strength to strength because there is a need out there, especially today with social services being cut rather to the bone.

“You’ve to think what happens in the long term when we are not here. You’ve to get them settled on their own and be as independent as possible as the parents are getting older. We feel a lot better because we know our son is going to be well looked after both while we’re here and when we’re gone. Our son is happy as well where he is.”

Spire began by supporting just three adults in one supported living house. By 2011 it had developed its own outreach service and in 2014 developed a volunteer service.

Spire’s services are for those aged 18 and over. The outreach support can range from two hours a week to 28 hours and costs £14.51 an hour, paid either through the county council or privately.

A recent CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspection judged Spire’s service to be “good”. Its report noted it was well led. with a safe and effective service that was caring. Although the report applied only to the service received by nine people in supported living eligible for CQC assessment, in total 40 people currently access Spire services, 16 are in supported living and 24 uses the outreach service.

Manager Susie Lowde, who has worked for the charity for 11 years said: “I’ve seen big changes in people’s lives. I’ve seen people embarking on long term relationships,people moving from shared accommodation to independent tenancies, people gaining qualifications from college courses and people learning new skills every day. We supported somebody last year to go on holiday to New York. They were turning 50 and that was their dream.”

She added: “The outreach service is very much tailored to the individual. It might be to support someone to access a particular activity in the community, it might be to provide the family with some respite. It might be to go in and support with medication ...there’s a multitude of different things it could be.”

The charity works closely with families and carers and says it is determined to “provide an individualised and creative service for adults who have a learning disability” and that they will "be empowered to live the life they choose and achieve their goals and dreams.”

As well as providing supported living and outreach services Spire runs activities icluding an art group, a music group and film nights.