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Royal Visit to Blackbird Leys

_MM84983The Leys Community Development Initiative (CDI) welcomed Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall to the Clockhouse over 50s project, to celebrate and showcase the work done by the charity to tackle loneliness and isolation amongst over 50s.

Catalyst were invited to take part in the special visit, as it has been a long-term supporter of the CDI’s objective to make a difference for the local residents of Blackbird Leys.

During her tour, HRH was greeted by CDI members demonstrating a wide range of the regular activities that take place at the Clockhouse, such as line dancing, singing, yoga and much more.

The CDI’s over-50s project has been a great success at getting older people in the Leys community out of their homes to meet new people, get more exercise and experiment with new hobbies. The services run by the CDI have been chosen and developed by the local older population of Blackbird Leys, many of whom make up most of the project’s volunteers.

The charity also runs programmes for hard to reach young people who may not be in education, employment or training, as well as those who may have a difficult home life. The youth programme runs targeted support and development for varied age-groups, with after-school initiatives for those aged 9-18 and bespoke intensive support for young people aged 18–25.

Catalyst is a founding member of the CDI, which was originally set up in 1995 by a group of locally active organisations to improve opportunities for people living in the Leys area of Oxford. Catalyst also part owns and funds the Clockhouse building, alongside the members of the Leys Housing Consortium (Greensquare Group and A2Dominion).

Ines Kretzschmar, Community Investment Coordinator, Catalyst Gateway and Trustee of the Leys CDI said, “It was a great honour to welcome HRH the Duchess of Cornwall to the Clockhouse. We are really proud of the work we do here and we appreciate being recognised for the effort we put in. Things like the gardening, dancing and yoga classes are great fun and allow older people to get involved with the community. We are always looking for volunteers and welcome new trustees who want to make a difference.

_MM85054Kaye Ellis, Clockhouse Project User and Catalyst Resident said, “The Clockhouse Project means getting out of the house, meeting with friends, having a chat, gathering information, which you didn’t know before. I am the founding member of the Clockhouse gardening club, SLIGO, and my aim was to getting people away from the telly out into the garden and have an interest in producing their own flowers and vegetables.

“Speaking to HRH the Duchess of Cornwall I was pleasantly surprised about her knowledge of gardening. She told me that she spends time in the garden and that times passes by quickly and that it is therapeutic. I loved meeting her.”