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The Reach Opportunity Centre




Fundraising for a new kitchen at The Reach Opportunity Centre in Weare has been given a huge boost by a donation from The Thatchers Foundation.


The Reach Centre supports young adults with learning disabilities, giving them opportunities to develop life-skills for living independently and preparing for work or apprenticeships.


From cooking their own meals, to using a washing machine or dishwasher, growing their own vegetables, and running a successful tuck shop and snack van, these all come within a typical day at The Reach Centre, which was set up by Jill and Peter Swingler in 2014.


So understandably a fully functioning kitchen comes within the heart of these skills, and the centre is hoping to raise £10,000 to install a new facility within a vacant unit at Badgworth Barns in Weare, where the Reach Centre is based, to offer further catering work skills.


Anne Thatcher, Trustee of the Thatchers Foundation, went along to the Reach Centre, together with fellow Trustee Phil Smith, to meet the young adults at the centre, and present them with a cheque for £2,500.


Anne Thatcher says, “We’re delighted to contribute to the Reach Centre’s fundraising. The Centre carries out truly inspirational work, and it’s clear that the young adults benefit enormously in many different ways. Hearing how a kitchen can make such a difference to life at the Reach Centre, and help develop skills, we were very happy to make this donation.”


Jill Swingler, who started the centre with husband Peter, initially to help their own son Jack gain work skills, says, “We’ve had some amazing success stories with our young people using the skills they’ve developed here to go on to jobs and apprenticeships in the local community. The creation of a new kitchen will really help everyone learn new skills that will help gain confidence for future work.


“When we started the Reach Centre we had just two young adults – we now have 28 and a waiting list. We’re very appreciative of the donation from The Thatchers Foundation which is a real boost to our fundraising.”


The Reach Centre supports young adults with learning disabilities from 18-35 years old who attend from throughout the local area.