ELIZABETH HOUSE COOKHAM
Cookham's day centre for independent seniors ~ Charity number 1188342
"At the heart of Cookham", alongside the local shops. Our aim is to provide support and companionship for the independent senior citizens of Cookham & Maidenhead and their immediate surrounding Berkshire villages, in accordance with our Constitution.
We are a Day Centre where members come to share the company of others in a happy, fun and safe environment to benefit from and enjoy, to have freshly cooked lunch and to have the opportunity to enjoy stimulating physical and mental activities if they choose and be entertained by musicians and other live artists. The environment is warm, welcoming, comfortable and safe.
We are have a single pre-booked lunch at 12.30pm Monday to Friday, 9.30-3.30pm and can seat a maximum of 22.
WHO WE ARE
Elizabeth House has around 200 members. It is run on a daily basis by 4 paid staff - our general manager is Miriam Blazey, our kitchen manager and chef is Tina Trice, our second chef is Helene Hamblin and our finance administrator is Helen Kirkaldie. They are supported by around thirty volunteers who help in various ways: on a daily basis - some drive members to and from Elizabeth House, some help with preparing for lunch, some help with serving tea, coffee, biscuits - all of which give opportunities to get to know members; on an ad hoc basis - some help with theatre outings, some help with outings to places of interest.
In addition to the activities, members may also have access to:
Our on site hairdresser, Carol - (concessionary rates)(Wednesdays)
Our on site chiropodist, Derry - (concessionary rates)(Tuesdays)
The charity is overseen by a board of 8 Trustees. Currently six of them live in the Cookhams (and have done so for a very long time!) and two are in Marlow. They are able to draw on a diverse range of experience from their personal and professional lives to ensure the successful running of the charity.
The Trustees are Jenny Elton, Suzi Shellabear, Chris Harris (Chairman of the Board), Mike Clark, Martin Sheehy, Bill Bennett, Jill Cruse and Sarah Renton. The President of Elizabeth House is Lady Aurelia Young.
Fun and Wellbeing
Currently we are offering as much as we normally would, ensuring we can do so with social distancing and PPE is being worn. Members are also requested to provide a negative lateral flow test before they come in or as they enter reception.
Our weekly entertainment includes popular musicians, bands and various other entertainers. We have visits from the local schoolchildren who come to play and sing. We have quizzes and bingo to keep the mind active. We have chair exercise classes, and gently physical games like indoor golf putting and parachute games to keep the body active. Although we encourage participation, it does remain optional. We have a Theatre Club which organises outings 2 or 3 times a year. We also have an annual boat trip along the Thames and organise outings to places of interest (in the past we visited Waterperry Gardens and Buckinghamshire Railway Museum, for example). We have a beautiful day room with full media services such as internet, television, music and radio as well as a piano and mini-library for all our members to enjoy. We also have an in-house podiatrist and hair stylist who have been providing their services for many years (to note, these are paid for by the members themselves).
Giving and Receiving
Volunteers are critical to the survival of a charity. Our current "army" of volunteers numbers around 40 volunteers and many of them have been helping us for years.
In-house volunteers have the opportunity to mix with the members whilst giving them tea/coffee or lunch, to have a laugh with them, hear their interesting stories - they have lived a long life and seen many things.
This is what we are all about - a place where senior citizens, many of whom live alone, can meet up and enjoy life outside of their own 4 walls.
We welcome and actively encourage volunteers, members and their family supporters to help us with fundraising events in the community. It might be the one event that they help with every year but they love to do it - it's their contribution.
I was lucky enough to be able to retire when I was 56 and I wanted to do something useful with my time outside of the family. I feel incredibly lucky that I found Elizabeth House. I had heard of it but knew nothing really about it and what it does. It is a fantastic place, it does so much for our older people and they love it. It is a joy to be able to do something that helps to keep the Day Centre running and to feel the appreciation of members.
Being a volunteer driver for Elizabeth House might make it possible for a few more of our seniors to commune at this wonderful day centre, but more than that I get to listen to their stories, see their smiles and play a little part in making their lives more varied and enjoyable.
Elizabeth House Member and Volunteer Trustee
Elizabeth House Volunteer
I have been involved as a volunteer at Elizabeth House for about 10 years. I can honestly say that it is one of the most fulfilling things with which I have been involved since I left full time employment. I have made new friends amongst the members and fellow volunteers and feel that I am genuinely contributing to the happiness and wellbeing of some lovely people within our local community. Volunteering is not a duty it is a real pleasure.
I’ll admit, I never looked to do anything if I wasn’t paid! When I moved to Cookham after the death of my husband and less work, I had too much time on my hands. A friend suggested I help at EH. Busy Miriam got me washing up for an hour a week and it was fun in the kitchen. I used my training occasionally to do chair yoga then when needed & served coffees but the best time was doing hand massage - chatting up close and finding out all about each individual. Elderly people very rarely get that physical contact we all need as human beings. The lounge was full of jokes and laughter and friendly banter. We all cheered each other up. It’s only once a week either chopping veg or serving lunch/coffee but I can’t wait to get back! I hate the thought that these lovely old people don’t have that camaraderie that comes from a few hours at Elizabeth House.