EXCLUSIVE: HRH The Princess Royal opens new £14million community centre in Birmingham

Written by on July 11, 2018

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited Selly Oak on Monday (9th July 2018) to open the pioneering new TouchBase Pears centre.


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South Birmingham Radio has exclusive pictures and interviews from the event (read on to the bottom of the article).

TouchBase Pears is a new community centre developed by the disability charity, Sense. The centre offers specialist services for people with complex disabilities, along with, facilities for the wider community which includes a library and café.

Find out more in this video: (article continues below)

The centre contributes to the regeneration of Selly Oak creating over a hundred jobs and aims to offer innovative solutions to social care.

Keep reading on for SBR exclusive pictures and interviews.

HRH Princess Anne officially opened the new centre on Monday (9th July) in her position as a patron of the charity, Sense.

The TouchBase Pears centre, developed by the national disability charity, Sense, has been planned since 2013, and cost £14 million to deliver. It has been praised with being a key part of the regeneration of Selly Oak, creating over a hundred jobs, and providing a welcoming hub for wider community services, such as a café, arts and performance area, garden, office space and gallery.

The charity’s Royal Patron was received by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of West Midlands (John Crabtree OBE), and met supporters, business leaders, and the public, before taking a tour of the centre with Justin Molloy, the charity’s Chair, and Gill Morbey, Chief Executive.


HRH THe Princess Royal speaks with John Crabtree OBE and Sense CEO Gill Morbey at TouchBase

The choir performed Roar by Katy Perry as one of their two songs. The performance was truly spectacular and moved almost everybody watching.


HRH The Princess Royal oversees a performance at the new TouchBase Pears centre

Sense Chief Executive, Gill Morbey, said:

“TouchBase Pears is a new way of delivering social care services, leading the way for the rest of the voluntary sector and beyond.

With its focus not just on services, but arts and wellbeing, office space, library, café and rooted in the heart of the community, it shows Sense can work beyond the boundaries of social care.

TouchBase Pears is bringing people together and demonstrating how integration and inclusion can work in Birmingham, but its reach and impact will be much wider.”

TouchBase Pears Manager, Laura Benson, said:

“TouchBase Pears is quickly becoming an important community hub, with so much going on, including arts and sport, children’s library and a buzzing café.

We’re delighted to welcome our Patron The Princess Royal.”

The building’s fully-accessible design has been developed in consultation with children and adults with a wide range of disabilities to ensure it meets people’s needs. Sense will use the centre to run a number of specialist services, supporting people with complex disabilities to learn new skills, build confidence, develop communication skills and take part in community-based activities.

The centre has been built with investment from trusts and foundations, including the Pears Foundation and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

To find out more about the TouchBase Pears centre please visit: www.touchbasepears.org.uk

SBR Exclusive Images and Interviews

HRH The Princess Royal’s Speech (SBR EXCLUSIVE).

Princess gives a speech shortly before officially opening the TouchBase Pears centre.

Centre manager, Laura Benson, speaks to South Birmingham Radio during the tour in an exclusive interview.

South Birmingham Radio exclusive pictures from the launch of TouchBase Pears.

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We even got a selfie with the Lord Mayor Cllr Yvonne Mosquito!

Lord Mayor Cllr Yvonne Mosquito has a selfie with SBR Media Manager, Alexander Metcalfe

More about Sense charity

Sense is a national disability charity that supports people with complex disabilities, including those who are deafblind, to be understood, connected and valued.  Sense supports children, young people and adults in their home and in the community, in their education and transition to adulthood and through its holidays, arts, sports and wellbeing programmes. Sense campaigns passionately for the rights of the people it serves, and offers practical help and support to families and carers, including information, advice, short breaks and family events. For more information please visit www.sense.org.uk

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