Originally, a number of Elderly and Disabled Groups met in the upstairs rooms at a Council property on Market Street, Halifax - now occupied by Tesco. These rooms had many drawbacks, access, fire regulations and so forth and the Groups were given a months notice to vacate the premises.
Promises had previously been made by the Local Authority and the NHS that a Centre would be made available for their use. However, when the time came for the Groups to quit the Market Street premises there was no money available from either of these bodies. This led to the late Maurice Jagger calling the organisations together and launching an appeal to raise £30,000 to fund a new purpose built Centre.
Suitable land was found in the centre of Halifax and building actually started before the target was reached - a huge commitment from those involved. Fund raising continued in earnest and eventually the target was reached, and indeed passed. This enabled the Centre to be built on a much larger scale than first planned. Further additions of two garages were made as funds allowed. These were vital to the Centre as they housed specialist mini buses needed to transport the Elderly and Disabled to and from the Centre.
In March 1982 the Maurice Jagger Centre was opened. Maurice himself was actively involved in the running of the Centre until he was 88 years old and he died in 2005 aged 92. The dream of many years ago had become a reality - he was a happy man.....
It is now 36 years since the opening in 1982 and the Centre has gone from strength to strength owing to a small but dedicated team. This is made up of a number of volunteers, the Management Committee and six Trustees - Margaret Mattingley (Chair and Maurice's daughter pictured), Geoff Wright (Vice Chair), Jean Redford (Treasurer), Michele Wood (Lunch Club Manager), Joyce Fearnley, and Doreen Lloyd (Shop Manager).
The Centre is used every weekday and some weekends. There are even occasions when the Centre hosts three different Groups in a day - morning, afternoon and evening. A large number of Groups make use of the Centre and these include Disabled & Elderly, Hard of Hearing, M.S., Arthritis Care, Memory Lane Cafe, Stroke Support, Soroptimist Int., Young at Heart, Trefoil Guild, Wine Circle, Embroiderers Guild, Calder Quilters, RAFA, Aachen Society, In Touch for the over 55's and Macular Supprt.
Transport is used every Tuesday for the Whist Group, every Wednesday and Thursday for Luncheon Clubs and on Saturdays for Whist Drives. Additionally, when we have other events such as Games or Quiz nights, Concerts or Sunday lunch, the minibuses are brought into service. We have a team of dedicated volunteer Drivers & Escorts (Brian, Alan, Stan, June, Mike and Tom). The Centre Transport Manager is June Spark.
The MJC Luncheon Club provides a hot 3 course lunch every Wednesday and Thursday. All the fresh food is sourced and bought locally in Calderdale. A number of volunteers prepare, cook and serve the food each Luncheon Club day and approximately 100 meals are provided each week. Despite all this activity in the kitchen, we are proud that the Centre was recently awarded a 5 star rating (the maximum) for food preparation and hygiene in the kitchen. We have recently started a drop-in for coffee and homemade cakes on Friday mornings and every third Friday in the month this is followed by RachAls Kitchen serving a light lunch.
The Centre's annual expenditure is approximately £35k and, as we receive no money in grants, this has to be raised by ourselves.
Our main sources of income are the Autumn Fair, an annual collection at Sainsbury's Supermarket, raffles, sale of second hand goods, clothes and bric a brac from a small room in the Centre, a market stall once a year in Halifax Town Centre, Quiz and Games Nights, Special Sunday Lunches, Cream Tea's, Concerts and so forth.
We, in line with other Charities, have been hard hit by the current economic climate. Donations and bank interest are low and we fully expect this to continue into the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, whilst the Trustees are prudent with the finances, they are also conscious of the need to keep the building well furnished, attractive and up to date. In the past few years we have replaced all the tables and chairs in the main hall, refurbished the ladies cloakroom and re-decorated throughout and in January 2016 completed a modest extension to support the administration required to manage the Centre. In August 2016, we re-carpeted the whole centre to keep it a bright, cheerful and welcoming place for Groups to use and in 2017 we installed solar panels to improve the efficiency of the Centre.
The Centre has only two paid employees, a part time Caretaker and Administrator. The remainder of the work is carried out by our small team of dedicated volunteers.
Future plans .........
Our aim will always be to continue providing a pleasant place that groups can use to support the local people of Calderdale where they can come and be made welcome. To enjoy either a special activity such as Embroidery, Quilting, Tai Chi or Whist. Perhaps to discuss their condition whether it be arthritis, MS, Alzheimer's etc and to get comfort, reassurance and advice. Or just to meet in a safe, clean, warm and welcoming environment, staffed by people who care what happens to them. In fact, to have a jolly good time amongst friends.