A former mansion that’s a place for people to come and call home

Alexandra Bánfi learns all about an Aberystwyth mansion, that has become a beloved home to a charity and its residents

By Alexandra Bánfi   |   Reporter   |
Sunday 22nd May 2022 11:00 am
@AlexandraBanfi
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Chika (pictured) has been working at Plas Lluest since 2008 and took on the role of manager two years ago
Chika (pictured) has been working at Plas Lluest since 2008 and took on the role of manager two years ago (Cambrian News )

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In the hills above Aberystwyth, hidden in the trees, a former mansion has become a beloved home to a charity and those they care for.

Surrounded by six acres of land, Plas Lluest is immersed in nature, providing a peaceful retreat for it’s residents.

Plas Lluest was first built in 1870 as a mansion, but in 1981 was turned into a residential home for adults with learning disabilities. It has continued to provide a home for numerous residents, with a caring team “supporting them in every aspect of their life”.

The Plas Lluest mansion is currently being redeveloped, but Chika hopes the day care service can resume on the bottom floor in the future
The Plas Lluest mansion is currently being redeveloped, but Chika hopes the day care service can resume on the bottom floor in the future. (Cambrian News ) (Cambrian News)

The manager at Plas Lluest, Chika Chukwu, took the time to speak with the Cambrian News about Livability, the managing charity, and the good work they do.

“What we offer is really for people to come here and call this place a home,” Chika explained.

“We are committed to promoting inclusion and wellbeing for the people we support, the people who live here. To maximise the opportunities for them in whatever they want to do in life and for them to live a good life, like people without learning disabilities do, and to be more independent.

“Even though they are seen as having learning disabilities, at the same time they are human beings like us, and we need to give them that benefit to actually live their life to the fullest.

“So we provide those things here; care services, taking care of their finances, managing their daily life, the medical side of things, everything about their life.”

Chika said the home was first set up as a charity, called Prospects, by Bud and Phil Mort, known by the residents as the house parents.

The cause was close to the couple’s heart as they themselves have a daughter with learning disabilities: “They started this place and their daughter still lives here now. They are very Christian people, so they decided to open this place as a Christian home.

“It attracted a lot of interest from across the UK, some people are from England, Scotland, every part of the UK.”

She added: “It wasn’t a business back then, it was them trying to help people with learning disabilities and their families who are struggling. It was and still is a charity. But along the line things changed and Prospects matched with Livability.

“It is a Christian charity, but we are open, we are not restricted to just Christians. Livability has it’s values to help whoever.”

Chika said the main aim of the team at Plas Lluest is for residents “to call
this place a home”
Chika said the main aim of the team at Plas Lluest is for residents “to call this place a home” (Plas Lluest ) (Plas Lluest)

In 2016, Plas Lluest was put up for sale by Prospects after they claimed changes to how services for people with learning disabilities are managed means that providing care homes is no longer the best way of providing support and services.

Prospects merged with charity Livability later in the year and the team as Plas Lluest were able to continue providing care for their residents.

Chika said the change “opened new doors” for the charity: “Prospects was having issues but they decided to match with Livability because they are one of the well-known charity organisations in the UK. Ever since then, it’s been different.

“We have more opportunity to reach more people, for us to be heard, for us to be known, and for people to know we are here. But also more opportunities for the people we support.”

While Chika joined the team at Plas Lluest in 2008, she has always had a passion for helping people: “Before I came to this country, I was a practicing nurse in Nigeria. Coming here, with child care it was a bit difficult to juggle with my husband and I working at the same time.

“We didn’t have any family here to support us, so I had to withdraw from my job in order to look after the children.

“Then I found this job. It was flexible and similar to what I was doing in Africa, looking after people - this is what I love doing. I love looking after and caring for people, it is in my nature. So I loved the job immediately.

“I’ve developed while I was here, after a few years I became a level two, then from that I did my NVQ and other studies and qualifications, then became assistant manager. From there here I am, I worked my way up and, two years ago, became manager.

“When you do a job you enjoy doing, you put everything in to it. To see it work, to see everybody is happy, with staff wellbeing as your priority and that of the people who you support. It’s selfless, you don’t even think about yourself. Your priority is to make sure everybody is fine and the charity is offering what they have said they would.”

In total, Plas Lluest has 11 residents, housed in two properties – Brodawel and Hafan-y-Coed. The Plas Lluest mansion is currently being redeveloped, and Chika hopes the bottom floor can once again be used for a day centre, as it was prior to Covid-19. As well as residential care, Plas Lluest also provides Domiciliary care.

The work of the team at Plas Lluest is extensive, with some residents being supported to get jobs.

It is the team’s aim to allow their residents to be as independent as possible, with two residents securing jobs in the town. Carlos (pictured) is currently working at McDonalds, in Aberystwyth
It is the team’s aim to allow their residents to be as independent as possible, with two residents securing jobs in the town. Carlos (pictured) is currently working at McDonalds, in Aberystwyth (Pete Jones ) (Pete Jones)

“When I talk about independence, this is one of the big things for them. We have a couple of residents who actually work, maybe once or twice a week, and we have some of them that go out and do the activities they love doing. All of these things are available to them.”

But coming out of Covid-19, Chika wants to raise awareness of Plas Lluest and the job they do: “It seems like we are isolated after Covid-19. So I want to remind people we are still up here. If there is any donation they want to donate, then please do.

“The residents are really involved in the community, they are well known because they go to St Michael’s Church or to other places, they work, one of them works in McDonalds. So it’s just so people know we’re here, and what we can offer.

“We are a residential home and even though we don’t have any space right now, maybe in the future if anybody wants their family member to be a part of us they are welcome.

“Another thing we offer is Domiciliary care. If anybody is interested they can get in touch.”

Anybody who wants to find out more, donate or join the Livability volunteer team, can get in touch with the home on 01970 611188.

Plas Lluest sits on the outskirts of Aberystwyth, surrounded by six acres of land and greenery
Plas Lluest sits on the outskirts of Aberystwyth, surrounded by six acres of land and greenery (Cambrian News ) (Cambrian News)

Platinum Jubilee event 2022

On Saturday, 4 June members of the public are being invited to Plas Lluest for Livability’s Jubilee Street Party.

The event will run from 11am to 3pm, with light entertainment, refreshments, a raffle, balloon modelling, a tombola, and more. The fire brigade will also be present from 11am to 1pm.

Chika said: “It’s really for our residents. In the last two years, they haven’t been on holiday because of restrictions, because their family can’t visit when they want to, a lot of things have happened, and so we want to improve their wellbeing and mental state.

“So we decided if this is happening and we’re going to do it, why not do it in such way that everyone can come together and enjoy the day.

“That was how we concluded to make it not something big, but something memorable for our residents and everyone.

“Sarah has planned everything, she has invited a lot of people. I think the firefighters are coming for a couple of hours because one of the residents used to work with them, so that is going to be the best day of his life.

“When we do things, we think about them – how is it going to benefit them, what sort of impact is it going to have on their life.”

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