By the time this report is presented the Literacy Centre will have closed its doors for the last time. I doubt if anyone, back in 1992 when it began, envisioned that the service would operate for just over 27 years. From an idea planted by Brenda Stiff the seed took root within the Life Skills Centre. Betty Allen nurtured the seed and lavished much care onto it until health issues forced her to resign.
We have been blessed to have had many amazing and dedicated teachers who sought to bring out the full potential of their students. It has always been a unique service, catering only for those with a learning difficulty. I must acknowledge the contribution made by Val West who, along with myself, was an original member of the Board. Val not only attended meetings but collected fees, taught lessons when required and built up a wonderful rapport with the parents and students. She carried out these responsibilities right up until her cancer diagnosis. Her loss was felt deeply throughout the centre and indeed, the whole Macarthur area. Without her assistance the Centre would have probably closed much sooner.
At our peak we also operated a centre at Ingleburn church, catering for around 70 students per week. The Ingleburn Centre closed some years ago when they had no-one able to run it. Campbelltown continued to operate successfully for a number of years before we began to see a decline in numbers. I believe contributing factors included the roadworks on Narellan road which meant people were travelling an hour each way, more tuition centres available, parents working and more extra-curricular activities. The last two years have been particularly difficult with very low numbers and irregular attendance. Thus the decision was made to close at the end of this year.
The Literacy Centre Board met recently and voted to donate $10,000 dollars of our account balance to the education programme in Burundi with remaining funds to be given to a local activity which will be decided on early in 2020.
It is my belief that we have been the quiet achiever of UnitingCare’s agencies, attracting no funding but operating on a user pays system and in the process assisting over 1200 students to improve their literacy skills. This often resulted in increased self-confidence and a willingness to try other things e.g. sport.
I would like to thank both the Literacy Centre and UnitingCare Boards for their support and encouragement. Campbelltown Uniting Church should be very proud of the positive impact this service has had on families in the Macarthur region. It will be missed.