Support for families & individuals facing the challenge of living with long term illness

Lynn Beaumont & Tony Webster started ‘Open Door’ in Civray – or Association La Porte Ouverte to give it its official name – almost two years ago as a Drop-in Centre to support people affected by long-term illness, either as a sufferer or carer. At the moment the house is always open on a Wednesday morning from 10 am until midday and provides a cup of tea or coffee and a ‘listening ear’ in an environment where laughter and a friendly face are important.

The couple retired to France nearly 8 years ago having been involved in Wales with the setting up and running of a Hospice Centre. Being familiar with several facts of the caring world, Lynn was a Homoeopath and Counselor with a Doctors Practice, they both realized that there was a need for a place where people could get help. Dealing with the many problems associated with long term illness in your own language and country can be difficult, and can be even worse in a country where they speak another language!

Our purpose has never been to take over from any of the existing French agencies but rather
to work alongside them when possible to provide the required assistance.

As a result of the help requested in the first year, last Autumn saw Open Door inaugurating the PALS (professional, amateur and lay support) 24 hour phone line to respond to particular
needs amongst the residents of the Poitou-Charentes. Help is available in the following areas:

Bereavement (including suicide), Family crises, Loneliness and Addiction

Whilst the majority of the ‘clients’ and helpers at Open Door are British we do have French people coming through the Door for help and there is always a French speaker available on a Wednesday morning.

A new support group has recently formed for people with breast cancer. The group is volunteer led and aims to support each other and those dealing with cancer for the first time in a foreign country. The group is to meet regularly on the second Monday of each month at Open Door in Civray.

With Christmas Day falling on a Sunday in 2005 it was decided to open the drop-in centre in Civray for the day and provided company and hot soup and mince pies for anyone who was facing the day alone. So successful was this initiative that it is likely to become a regular Christmas Day feature.

Support and counseling arent’t the only activities behind Open Door. Concerns about animal welfare back in June 2005 prompted a quick response and Open Door held two vide-greniers near Ruffec and with half the profits bought a car load of dog and cat food, blankets, baskets and bowls; all of which were delivered to the SPA Animal Refuge in Poitiers.

The drop in centre is now open on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 10h00 until midday and there is also a lending library of over 4700 English Books and over 450 DVDs and videos. As well as the above times the library is also open on Friday mornings.

None of the above would be possible without the support of our volunteers and the work undertaken by Open Door is paid for by fund-raising events and donations. If you have time on your hands and have an understanding and sympathy for supporting people in need, Open Door would be pleased to hear from you. Maybe you have organizational skills and would like to host an event on their behalf or have some expertise in publicity skills…you may be just the person they need so why not drop by for a chat! Everyone’s input is important from tea making to helping to create a Newsletter for its members.

If you do not have the time to spare but would like to help you can become a ‘Friend’ of Open Door for 10 euros a year, which gives you voting rights and keeps you regularly up to date with a regular Newsletter.

Contact may be made by visiting Open Door on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings at:
18 rue Pierre Pestureau, Civray
or through the regularly monitored telephone answering service on:
05 49 87 97 36
There is also a website at which has a dedicated email contact at [email protected]

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