Wednesday, 16 April 2003
THE Motherwell Multiple Sclerosis centre has re-opened - thanks to the dedication of three local women.
The centre at Shields Road, which provided a lifeline to around 50 MS sufferers, closed in January after the MS Society refused to let former officers, Rita Clark, and Robina and Bobby Anderson, run it.
However after an investigation - and three months of the centre lying empty and unused - the society have changed their minds.
Robina, of Cambusnethan Street, Cambusnethan, said: “We got the centre back last Friday.
“We got a lot of help from councillors and the First Minister in doing this.
“Everybody has been very supportive to us.”
Rita, of Dyfrigg Street, Shotts, added: “We have got a lot of mail to send out.
“We need to let all the people know that we have the centre back.
“We have been so stressed out over the last few months, Loudon (Rita’s partner who suffers from MS) has had a set back and our phone bills have been massive.
“But who cares? We have our keys back.”
Robina added: “We would like to thank everyone who helped us, especially councillors Jim McCabe, and Gerry McLaughlin, MSP Jack McConnell, MP Frank Roy, and all the constituency office staff. They were all really great.
“We also want to thank all of the neighbours next to the centre.
“They looked after it, and got a petition up with 120 signatures saying they wanted us back.”
“We had our own petition and got thousands of signatures on it.”
The centre was originally opened in November 2001 by Robina Anderson, then chairwoman of the MS Society’s Lanarkshire branch.
The centre quickly became an invaluable resource to MS sufferers - many of them housebound.
Computers and other furnishings were gifted for use in the centre by Motherwell College, and MS sufferers took part in computer courses while enjoying the friendly environment.
When Robina, who was last year voted volunteer of the year and citizen of the year, decided in October to quit the branch in December - after 22 years as a member - she asked if she could continue to run the centre.
The 16-member committee, eight of whom decided to quit along with Robina, agreed she and Rita Clark, another committee member, should be allowed to continue running the centre.
Robina, Rita, and Rita’s partner Loudon began setting up the centre as a separate entity to the MS Society and applied for a charity number, with the full support of the centre attendees.
However the director of the MS Society Scotland, Mark Hazelwood, stepped in and told them they could not run the centre as they were no longer officials of the Lanarkshire branch.
This was despite the new committee of the Lanarkshire branch of the MS Society deciding they didn’t want to run the centre.
Robina, Rita and Robina’s daughter Bobby said at the time they didn’t believe the MS Society wanted to run the centre - just to close it.
This was their opinion until a few weeks ago when in an unexpected about-turn the society decided to allow them to re-open the centre.
However they made sure they did not leave anything bought with MS Society cash.
Rita said: “They took the computers, the curtain rails. They even took the curtain hooks and coat hooks.”
Bobby added: “They took everything that wasn’t nailed down - well actually that’s not true - they just unscrewed the nails!”
It will take a while before the centre is properly up and running again.
Rita said: “Our funds are very, very low.
“We’re going to do a lot of fund-raising.
“We need things like a photocopier, blinds and kitchen units.
“If any local businesses want to donate anything to us, we would be very grateful.”
Although it’s going to take a lot of work to get the centre back on track the threesome are just delighted to be able to phone their clients and telling them the good news.
Bobby said: “It’s a great feeling phoning them and telling them we have got the keys back.
“They are expecting more bad news and then we tell them that. Everyone
© Copyright 2003, Wishaw Press