An outdoor education centre and community hub set out the outskirts of Doncaster has thanked NRS Healthcare for its support over the years since becoming a social enterprise.

Austerfield Study Centre was established 50 years ago as a safe place for people to learn and play. A decade ago, under threat of closure, a group of volunteers set it up as a not-for-profit enterprise and has been supporting around 9000 young people and adults ever since.

Situated in an old primary school, the study centre offers a hands-on approach to learning and inspires its visitors about science, nature and local history as well as other subjects.

Four years ago, one of the volunteers raised money for a changing bed and hoist to be installed in the centre’s disabled toilet. One of the conditions was that the equipment needed to be serviced every year to keep it under warranty.

Nigel Knowles, General Manager at NRS Healthcare in Doncaster, offered to send a trained member of staff each year to check the equipment even though it hadn’t been supplied through the company.

In Doncaster, NRS Healthcare runs the Community Equipment Service, loaning equipment on behalf of Doncaster Council and South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, to support people to live independently in their homes, or be discharged from hospital.

Nigel, and former Occupational Therapist Julie Barlow, visited Austerfield Study Centre at the time to see how NRS could support them moving forward and over the past four years has donated 31 wipe-down mattresses for use in the dormitory block where children visit on school residential stays.

Nigel said:

“We are delighted to have been able to help Austerfield Study Centre, which is a wonderful place for people in the community to have access to. At NRS Healthcare, our aim is to enable people to live full, active and independent lives. We do this through the services we offer, but also like to get involved with other opportunities and give back to the communities in which we serve.”

Nigel Senior is General Manager of Austerfield Study Centre. He said:

“Our existing mattresses were at the end of their life, but we were not able to afford to buy new wipe down mattresses for the children. NRS has also supplied us with four adjustable tablets we use for children in wheelchairs whey they can’t get under a regular table, so they can take part in the activities. These have proved very successful for animal handling.”

NRS loans out thousands of pieces of community equipment in Doncaster each year. When it is no longer needed, the equipment is returned, serviced, maintained, repaired, cleaned and then reloaned. Once the equipment can no longer be sent out it is recycled by charities both in the UK and abroad.

In addition to equipment, NRS Doncaster has also donated colouring pencil, stickers and stationery which have all been put to good use. Nigel Senior added:

“Working with Nigel and the team at NRS in Doncaster has been fantastic and shows on a local level the difference that can be made to support social enterprises. Sometimes, it isn’t about the money, but the skills companies can offer and the repurposing of resources. We have also gone on to purchase rubber matting from NRS to help disabled people and those using wheelchairs to get around our site more easily.”
To learn more about Austerfield Study Centre, click here.