Staff, community and volunteers gathered together today for a farewell lunch with staff and clients from Daybreak, a charity supporting adults with learning disabilities and additional needs which has been running services from the walled garden at Minsteracres for around 20 years.

Although sad to be leaving both Minsteracres and the long and fruitful partnership we have shared, the Daybreak team are excited to be moving to a new chapter in refurbished accommodation in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

Centre manager Cath Colborn explains, “Currently the service users at Minsteracres come from around the Bishop Auckland area and we want them to be able to meet and work with people from their local community.

“Coundon and Leeholm Community Centre is being refurbished specifically to suit our needs, and we have two allotments at Canny Hill so we can carry on the projects we began at Minsteracres. The old post office is being turned into a wood working room with doors to the garden, and there’s a professional kitchen for our service users to work in.”

The move also heralds the development of a new, bespoke service to enable people to have enough support to help them to move on – be it to furnish them with life skills, or on to employment.

“It’s person-centred and we work with the service user and their family to look at what the individual needs to achieve the goals they have identified.” says Cath.

Fr Jeroen told the assembled group, “We’re sad you’re moving on, but we know you’re going somewhere where you can do the same and more. We hope you’ll continue to come back to Minsteracres, especially for your Christmas carol service.

“I’d like to thank you for all you’ve given Minsteracres over the years, and wish you well in Bishop Auckland.”

Cath knows the service users will miss their regular visits to Minsteracres’ kitchen with the produce they’ve grown in the garden, “They love coming up to the kitchen and asking Margaret what she’s going to make with the fruit and vegetables they’ve brought.”

Presenting operations manager Geoff Bockett with a card and a print of the redwoods on the driveway, David Hall spoke for the Daybreak team when he said “We’d like you to accept this card and gift from all of us and we wish you all the best for the days to come.”

Cath added, “We have loved our time here in such a beautiful, tranquil location. Our working relationship has gone from strength to strength and we hope to keep this going even when we move.

“We will miss you all”.