A new place to gather for brain injured and mentally ill

People with mental illness or brain injury will have twice the space to join in activities when the Gathering Place relocates to the former Club Café building on Wednesday.

Jane Ferguson of the Canadian Mental Health Association paints an office inside in the association’s new Gathering Place

People with mental illness or brain injury will have twice the space to join in activities when the Gathering Place relocates to the former Club Café building on Wednesday.

For two years, the Gathering Place has been located in an 1,800-square-foot space site on 48th Street. Now the Canadian Mental Health Association facility will have 4,000 square feet by renting half of the downtown Café building, owned by Potter’s Hands Developments.

Renovations started in February. Volunteers and CMHA staff were stripping wallpaper, spackling and painting this week in preparation for moving in on Tuesday.

A new accessible washroom was installed, along with a new kitchen area, a few small rooms, and a large activity area.

The Gathering Place has 229 members and will also be open to people with brain injuries when the new site opens.

CMHA executive director Trish Turnbull said having a place to make connections and take part in activities makes a significant difference in people’s lives.

“We’ve done a lot of research and talked to a lot of people with mental illness and brain injury over the years and the two major issues people identify for us are loneliness and isolation, and lack of participation and meaningful activities,” Turnbull said.

“People that come here actually run the centre. They run clerical area. They’ll plan meals and do all the grocery shopping and meal preparation. They will complete a newsletter for other members. They’ll offer support.”

And the larger site will allow them to expand on their programs, she said.

Renovations are thanks to a $50,000 grant from Alberta Seniors and Community Supports.

Alberta Health Services, United Way of Central Alberta, and Alberta Seniors and Community Support’s brain injury division are providing $220,000 a year to operate.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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