HOW THE ODELL CENTRE BEGAN
In the early 1980's, Mr Eric O'Dell, a retired electrical engineer, felt strongly that there should be a sheltered workshop in the Kidderminster area for people with learning disabilities such as his own son. Mr O'Dell was part of a local MIND group and formed a committee with representatives of MENCAP, the Community Health Council and the County Council as well as interested professionals.
Very sadley, Mr O'Dell suffered a stroke in 1984 and died shortly afterwards, before his plans for the workshop could be realised.
Mrs Joyce Coley and Mr Ken Peers, who had been part of the original committee, decided that they would set up a centre in Mr O'Dell's name. Their enthusiasm and commitment attracted help from local businesses, the Council and volunteers.
The Odell Trust, which is a registered charity, was formed in 1984 to run the new Odell Centre. Two of the group's original members are still Trustees. Premises were rented for the new Odell Centre, next to Blakebrook School, where Mrs Coley was headmistress and could be on hand if help were needed. The new centre was furnished with donations from far and wide and was run by volunteers, with support from Social Services, who began to allocate funding to the Centre.
In 1985, through his work as a County Councillor, Ken Peers heard about a vacant property in Park Street in Kidderminster. The Centre moved there and was run by two staff and a team of volunteers. Only half of the current premises was available at the time. A team of young people from a government training scheme, together with members of a scout troop, cleared and redecorated the building - a real community effort! Furniture and equipment was obtained from wherever it was going spare!
A total of 18 full time places was available at this time, with members all attending on a part time basis.
In 1989 a Centre Manager and Assistant Manager, who both had training and experience needed to run the Centre, were appointed. Also around this time the Centre bought its own minibus to transport people from home to the Centre and out on trips. Volunteers shopped, cooked and served lunch for the members until, in 1990, a cook was employed.
In 1994, when the number of members had increased, the Centre was expanded when the Trust took over the second half of the building. The building was then reconstructed internally to provide a kitchen and dining room, craft room, small sitting room, members' kitchen and small office, as well as the main activity room. At the same time , Bewdley Rotary provided funding to refurbish the land at the side of the building and create a small garden for the members' use. The garden was later enlarged when the Trust was offered part of the gardens of houses in Park Street which were being sold by the Council. The members enjoy using this and are very proud of their extended garden!
In 2009 a new kitchen was built and fitted out to catering standards. As before, donations from local groups and bequests from members' families helped with this expensive work.