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Pearey House – Managing Change

It’s great, lovely environment, lovely people.



I started November 2009.  The manager retired two years after me being here and I was offered the role of Manager which I accepted.  I was made redundant in banking and I saw this job.  I wish I had done this sort of job from leaving school, it’s great.  Lovely environment lovely people.

The first thing was to modernise it, so I just went about getting funding in.  I could see the potential; I could see what the focus was all those years ago and I think it had just got into a rut.

After refurbishing I set about networking, trying to find out how people could refer in, it was just a massive task.  A lot of working with sensory support team at the council, RVI eye department, local opticians, local doctors and then we just slowly started to build the service up again.  But at the same time thinking we still need to think about the future and think about how things can evolve.  It’s always been a long-term plan so in 2015 we became a CIO, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, that was a lot of hard work.  We were Tynemouth Blind Welfare Society, the borough’s all changed so we rebranded to Pearey House Centre for Visually Impaired.  We needed new blood and new ideas so that’s when we started looking for new trustees.

Photo of Pearey House Gym

The Gym Pearey House

I started to say, “What is it that you actually want to do.”  We were getting younger people in which made a massive difference.  They all came in, mobile phones, computers, iPads, so we needed somebody to be able to do that.  We did the gym.  We realised talking to people, they felt very uncomfortable in a public place going to the gym so we set that up and we worked with the YMCA to bring somebody in to show them how to use the equipment.  Getting out and about, socialising, that’s the main priority, that’s what they wanted to do and that is what we focus on now.  It’s the socialising, stopping isolation, going out.  We have 59 coming in over the days, it’s lovely, we have got a waiting list of people.


Photo of the new Miller Conservatory

The new Miller Conservatory

We put the conservatory on in covid.  I found that photograph, I said, “Look at that, it’s absolutely amazing, we need to get this back.”  Quickly realised it was bespoke, the council needed to have it like for like because we are in a conservation area.  Costs just went through the roof, but we managed.  We did a massive, massive fundraising to get the conservatory and it’s a great addition, extra space, it’s a lovely addition.  That’s one of the things I am chuffed about.

I just wish I had taken photographs of what it was actually like.  It had always been looked after as a building, always had repairs done it was solid, but it was so old fashioned, it just wasn’t inviting.  All of the woodwork was orange because somebody had come up with this idea that all the framework needed to be bright. When I spoke to people, they said they needed all the framework white as a definition between the colour of the walls and frames.  In the lounge the walls were green, so the woodwork was all dark green.  All the hallway was orange.  The dining room lilac and purple.  So, we have had windows changed, we have had the conservatory built, we’ve had floors done, decorating.

It’s actually a custodian now, Pearey House.  I think people didn’t realise legalities and policies and how things had changed so much to protect everybody, so everything was brought up to date and done correctly.  We had shares and they were with people who had died 30, 40 years ago, so we had to go to families and get death certificates, so that was a huge job, but it’s done now and sorted out.


Helen was interviewed as part of the Pearey House 150th Anniversary Project.

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