A look back on our early beginnings. CHAT started with a public meeting in November 1991 held at the time in the newly opened Tamara day care centre with over 100 people attending. The idea came about with three health professionals, namely Dr Kevin Mattholie, Sister Margaret Hall and Health Visitor, Kathy Gilbert, coming together with the same ethos that health is not just the responsibility of the professionals, but all of us. Not just pills and potions but self help and support. Two of the first projects that were muted as being important was exercise for the elderly and a support group for Diabetics. We are proud to say that these two initiatives are still thriving today!
We are a unique charity and although we have drawn upon help from other organisations and linked into national and county organisations over the years CHAT has not been replicated in its entirety. The Liaison Lunch we started in the early days was to bring together statutory and voluntary organisations once a month for a networking lunch and was thought to be a very important model for exchange of information between these two sectors. This continues to be the case.
Over the years many projects have been started some still continuing but others falling by the wayside due to lack of participants or volunteers such as the Carers Group. Like all groups we suffer from lack of young input into the organisation, someone to take up the reigns in the future for the sake of Torpoint and the peninsula. So we remain flexible and responsive to changing needs.
We have acted in a lobbying capacity on various projects brought to us such as the Tritium deposits in the Tamar and the Transfer Waste Station that was proposed. A few of our successes were the lowering of kerbs to accommodate wheelchair users in the town, campaigning to get an additional bus stop for ease of access to local services and a dedicated phone line for the deaf and hard of hearing at the General Hospital.
In 1999 we opened our charity shop in Torpoint this was a massive undertaking for a small charity such as ourselves but the volunteers saw the potential. We are glad that they did as the community shop is still going strong despite three more moves. The shop also supports financially CHAT itself and CHATLINK and also gives small grants to local groups and organisations in need. Applications forms can be found on the website or from the shop.
The year 2000 saw the start of CHATLINK an information and resource centre this was very innovative and we were the original ‘one stop shop’. The idea was born out of the community wanting to access services nearer to home particularly as transport to the west of the county was non-existent. It has expanded into 2 units within The Old School House in Macey Street and has become our charity’s main office.
In 2004 we were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which was a great honour and the presentation was attended by three of our volunteers at the Palace.
In 2004 we employed our Community Development Worker, Becky Lingard who works tirelessly on our behalf and inspires and develops CHAT to be what it is today. She has implemented many new groups and supported existing ones whilst overseeing the shop CHATLink and our band of volunteers. In appreciation of our volunteers we like to organise a day when they can enjoy a get together. Two new recent projects have been revived namely, the networking lunch renamed Schmoozing Lunch and the Relaxation for Life course thanks to a recent grant.