Centre opened in memory of tragic David, 39

Karen Caffrey with local residents at The One House
Karen Caffrey with local residents at The One House

A much-missed son is the driving force behind a major new Wigan community centre which the family hope could prove a life-saver.

David Caffrey died by his own hand earlier this year, and his plight has given new impetus to a project in Aspull which, mother Karen believes, could avert similar tragedies for other families.

David Caffrey

David Caffrey

She blames a lack of help in the township, as David battled psychosis, for his emotional downward spiral and death at the age of just 39.

But she has now been given a six-month lease on the former Wigan Women’s Centre in Aspull to run The One House: a single-stop shop for a wide range of services which will, in part, offer lifelines to those with mental health difficulties.

The project was born in Karen’s darkest moments while looking after David. Realising there was a lack of community facilities in Aspull, she came up with the idea of somewhere people in similar situations could meet, share advice and information and take a brief break from their caring burdens.

However, since David’s death in February the whole project has become much more ambitious with services and organisation helping people through all sorts of difficulties getting in touch to run sessions at the Haigh Road venue.

She said: “For me it all started with David. There wasn’t anywhere to go for advice or to drop in and pick up leaflets and I used to think it was a shame.

“I don’t drive so to get to Sunshine House in Scholes would mean catching a bus and you can’t do that when you’ve got somebody at home who needs keeping safe.

“It’s good to speak to other people in the same situation because if you told someone what it’s actually like they’d never believe you. It reassures you that you’re not alone and not going mad.

“I thought if I ever got a chance I would do something and now this has come along.

“Lots of people are suffering and it might not be identical but you can bet your bottom dollar they will have some of the same problems. I want to give them somewhere to have a quiet 10 minutes and just gather their thoughts.

“We’ve been given this building on a trial basis for six months so it’s now down to the community to support us.”

Karen envisages The One House as a real community hub for Aspull supporting people experiencing difficulties at all stages of their lives.

She wants to combat social isolation by providing somewhere older people who rarely get visitors at home can enjoy a hot drink, a meal and traditional games.

Volunteers will also run services picking up those struggling with mobility to take them to the centre and home again.

A firm of solicitors has been in touch about offering advice on debt problems and other legal difficulties residents are experiencing and there will also be back-to-work courses offering jobseekers help with applications and CVs.

There have also been conversations about offering reflexology and massages and a support group for parents with autistic children.

Karen also sees The One House as a venue for community events such as Christmas fairs and also somewhere the doors are always open for assisting the community, for example if someone struggling with benefits needs to use a phone as they can’t afford to ring Government departments.

Karen said: “I just think we’ve lost a lot of that community spirit. Aspull might be growing but it’s still a small village.

“So far I’ve been delighted with the response and hopefully it will prove this can work and people want it.”

The One House is being created by a team of volunteers and largely crowd-funded as they will be unable to apply for grants if they successfully negotiate the trial period.

Karen is also hoping to put her own skills as a person-centred counsellor to use, saying the layout of the building is well suited to it.

She said: “It can be used for drug and alcohol addiction, depression, bereavement and other problems. It’s more open-ended. I will offer it free.”

Karen and her team have already got the backing of their elected representatives.

The One House is having a jumble sale as one of its first events on Saturday from 1pm until 4pm.

To find out more about the new venue, search for the ‘One House’ Community Centre public group on Facebook.