Creating a Beacon of Hope
In 2019, MAIN received an incredible gift that would change the course of our history. A donation of £100,000 for us to purchase our own premises for the very first time. That gift sparked a dream which we’ve strived for ever since, even during a global pandemic, to create a beacon for people living with disabilities in the North East.
The Finlay Cooper Fund was a charity set up by local football hero Colin Cooper and his wife Julie, to remember their son Finlay, who tragically died just before his second birthday. After successfully fundraising over £600,000 in his name over the course of 17 years, the Coopers decided to close the fund in 2019, and give three charities what was left. They chose MAIN as one of those charities, seeking to create a long-term legacy for their son in what would become The Finlay Cooper Centre.
After using the donation as a deposit for new premises, MAIN then started what became our biggest ever fundraising appeal. MAIN’s Big Build evoked DIY SOS as it called on everyone across the region to help us raise the £205,000 we needed to renovate our new home.
The appeal got off to a flying start, with generous grants from several large funders, such as the Albert Hunt Trust, fundraising from our wonderful supporters, and some great press coverage. Then, coronavirus arrived. Like so many other organisations, the pandemic hit us hard, as fundraising, building work and even the delivery of our services became a challenge.
Despite all that, MAIN has remained resolute in our commitment to opening our incredible new centre.
The Finlay Cooper Centre facilities
We cannot wait to open the doors to the Finlay Cooper Centre. For the first time in MAIN’s history, we’ll have a space that’s entirely designed around the needs of our visitors.
Bespoke rooms for different ability groups will allow us to offer more tailored support. A sensory garden and outdoor play area will help many of our users to experience the outdoors as they’ve never done before and to grow their own produce on the land. State-of-the-art equipment for our sessions will enable our users to develop and learn the skills they need to live independently. Specially adapted changing areas suitable for all ages will give our users a hygienic, comfortable place to get changed in dignity. Better security features will mean we can keep all our visitors safe and our legacy protected. Best of all, with double the space, we can ensure there is always space at MAIN for someone who needs it.
We all benefit when we can enable others to participate socially, engage in our community and live a fulfilled, independent life. That’s something little Finlay Cooper could be proud to put his name to.