Twelve months of hard work and making a difference will be celebrated this weekend at a special event in Lundin Links.
Homelands Trust-Fife officially opened its four accessible holiday lodges last September, and staff, volunteers and trustees will be welcoming a host of supporters this Sunday to mark the special occasion.
The 2014 opening followed nearly two decades of development after Isobel Paxton bequeathed her Homelands estate to the MS Society.
Reflecting on their first year, Jan Kerr, secretary and trustee at Homelands, said: “It has been an amazing journey. I could never have dreamt of how successful it would actually be. We have been near or at capacity for May, June, July and August, which has way exceeded our expectations.”
David Paton, development co-ordinator, added: “The kind of feedback we’ve had has been really powerful.
“We take notes from some of the guests and, in some cases, the people coming here haven’t been able to have a holiday for seven years.”
What can I say about Homelands? It was very. very good, and very enjoyable. The people there were so helpful and nothing was too much trouble.
June Greig, from Kingseat, near Dunfermline, has just left Homelands after staying throughout the summer while her house was repaired following flood damage.
She said: “What can I say about Homelands? It was very. very good, and very enjoyable. The people there were so helpful and nothing was too much trouble.
“I have stayed in accessible accommodation before but Homelands definitely has the edge.”
June also commented on the fantastic facilities at the Paxton Centre, a dedicated on-site facility which runs a cafe on Mondays and Wednesdays, as well as alternative therapies, exercise classes and a whole host of other weekly activities.
“In terms of uniqueness, the Paxton Centre is definitely it,” said Jan. “There’s nothing else like it in Scotland, and we do really want to develop it more over the next year.”
From art therapy to seated exercise classes, Reiki, aromatherapy massage, and more, many of the sessions on offer are actually led by people who themselves have a disability.
“We’re keen for Homelands to be inclusive,” said Jan. “Sometimes a person with a disability just wants to forget about it for a while and have a chat about something else.”
David added: “We want everyone to come and experience Homelands. We want to increase positive community participation, embrace the accessibility agenda and welcome everyone.”
Over the past year, Homelands has developed links with a number of charities and currently offers last-minute breaks for those in need of respite care through Shared Care Scotland and Fife Carers Centre, as well as free therapy sessions, mindfullness and exercise classes for unpaid carers through its Caring for Carers scheme.
Over the next year, the staff and volunteers at Homelands are keen to expand the facilities on offer, including more for children and a sensory room. They are currently looking for more volunteers – they have around 15 right now – as well as a volunteer co-ordinator, who can develop and manage a strategy for the future. Anyone interested should call 01333 329039. Meanwhile, Simon Allan took on the role of chairman last month. He is the managing director of Canvas Holidays, and has worked in the tourism industry for a number of years. He said: “I live in the local community and felt like it was the right thing to give back. The last year has been about learning and consolidating, and working everything out. The next 12 months will be about solidifying the business and making it something that can support itself.”
The anniversary event takes place at the Paxton Centre this Sunday at 2pm.