Carmen, who is in her 80s has been attending ECL Colchester - Marylands day centre for over two years now. She lives nearby with her son and daughter in law, although Carmen is originally from Colonia in North-west Spain.
She moved to London in her 20s and was sadly widowed at a young age. She then spent ten years working as a chef in department store, Fortum and Mason, while raising her children. She had a very social life in London, and enjoyed keeping busy, despite the sadness of her first few years in England.
When Carmen came to retirement age, she decided to go back to Spain, but unfortunately shortly after relocating, she was in a serious car accident and spent seventeen days in a coma in hospital. As a result of the accident, she now has weakness on her left side, and has to use a walking frame. Because of this weakness, she is prone to falling, and struggles to move around.
When she came out of hospital, Carmen and her family decided it was best for her to move back to England, so she could live with her son, Felic and his partner, Deborah in Colchester. But Felic and Deborah both work full time, and Carmen would often find herself at a loose end during the day. That’s when Felic suggested visiting ECL Colchester -Marylands day centre and Carmen has been going twice a week ever since.
Carmen said: “I love coming to Marylands, it’s the best place I’ve been to in my life. Everyone here is my friend, we all chat and have a laugh, I’m so happy when I’m here, and I feel so relaxed. I miss it so much when I’m not here.
“All the staff are so lovely, nice people. They treat us beautifully. We do exercises, we do puzzles, I love doing crochet, reading. It’s just good to spend time with other people.”
Carmen relies on ECL transport to get her to and from the centre while her family are at work. Without transport being provided to Marylands, Carmen would struggle to leave the house much. She said: “I don’t want to be a pest, my son would have to take me in a wheelchair, and I just prefer to stay at home”.
The team at Marylands were determined to encourage Carmen to get out more, despite her mobility, and struck up a partnership with nearby Colchester Castle.
“Visits like this have a massive impact on our customers. Carmen for example lives with her family but they're both working, and she can't get out on her own. We’re trying to build our offering at ECL to give everyone the opportunity to go out and be part of the community. Our customers have all had busy lives, have all had careers, some of them have been parents. Just because you’re older it doesn’t mean it should just stop.”
Carmen spent the day at Colchester castle recently with some of the other ECL customers and loved it. She said: “It was a lovely trip. I'd never been in the castle, and I did enjoy it. We had a walk around the gardens, I remember the beautiful mosaic floor in the castle, I loved that.”
Carmen is looking forward to many more trips out with the team at Marylands.