Cheshire Homes India
Group Captain Lord Leonard Cheshire was very fond of India and made various visits during his lifetime. He encourged the local philanthrophists and social welfare activists to set up Homes in their cities to provide care and support to people with disabilities from the weaker section of the society. In 1961, the Bangalore Cheshire Home started in a small rented cottage on Rustam Bagh Estate, (located directly opposite Manipal Hospital on HAL Airport Road, Bangalore) with one resident, a young girl named Ivy Paul, who was completely bedridden with arthritis. From this small beginning the Home has expanded over a period of 50 years to the present stage.
The present home is situated on one acre of land donated by Dr. & Mrs. Z.R. Kothavala. It consists of a residential home for 50 physically handicapped women and girls in the age group 4 to 60 + yrs.
One wing of the Home was built as a memorial to Group Captain S. Das, Chief Test Pilot of H.A.L. who was killed in a flying accident in 1970. His wife Veronica Das was a committee member and later the Secretary of this home on an honorary basis till she retired in 2004.
The Rehabilitation Centre started in 1985 which aims to train physically handicapped men and women from the surrounding area to become earning members of the family and thus take a normal place in Society.
As part of occupation theraphy, the residents are taught stitching, embroidery, assembly of parts, and repackaging of bulk toilet products, etc. Outlets for the these products are provided in front of the Home.
There is a 'Home for the Aged' in Whitefield where 16 elderly ladies from the weaker section of the society live a dignified life in a cottage donated by James Macguckin, a Scottish planter, and 2 new blocks built with support from The Rotary Club, Indiranagar.
As part of the outreach programme to provide assistance to persons with disabilities who are not residents in the Home, a pilot project in association with Leonard Cheshire Disability-UK and M/s Accenture-UK has been intiated. The project has successfully trained over 250 disabled men and women and placed them in various companies in the IT, BPO, Hospitality and Retail sectors. More details are available in the link "Cheshire Livelihood Resource Centre".
Residents are primarlly physically challenged girls and ladies from the economically weaker section of the society. The home situated on the HAL Airport Road presently accommodates about fifty residents while the home in Whitefield for elderly women has a capacity of about twenty. All residents are given proper medical attention and treatment. The children are provided formal education and are prepared for a profession/career and for independent living. For those with greater limitations, opportunity is provided in the home for a meaningful life and economic productivity through the learning of crafts and by other means.
A majority of the residents have been successful in their studies and training and have secured employment . They are living either on their own or with their families. They are working in the IT industry, hotels, hospitals and other occupations.
The Managing Committee
The Cheshire Home units in India are independent societies registered in the respective States in which they are located. They are affiliated to the parent body which is 'Cheshire Homes India' having its headquarters at Mumbai. Each unit is managed by a committee which is its governing body. The members of the managing committee are experienced persons from the defence, other government services, business, industry and academic background. All are volunteers.
Mr BV Narayana Reddy was the first Chairman in 1961. Since his retirement, the Bangalore Cheshire Home has had its managing committee headed by officers who have retired after distinguishing themselves in the Indian Air Force. The position of Chairman has been held by Air Cmde AW Chacko, Air Vice Marshal SN Roy Chaudhary, Air Marshal SJ Dastur, Air Marshal Alburquerque and Air Marshal PK Dey. Presently, Air Marshal TJ Master is the Chairman of the Managing Committee.
The position of the Secretary in the Bangalore Cheshire Home is an important one since this position has responsibility for all executive functions, including overseeing of all activities and functions performed by the Staff. Mrs Veronica Das, wife of the Late Group Captain Suranjan Das, erstwhile Chief Test Pilot of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited held this position for thirty six years, a period covering its early development. Mrs.Rani Murthy has taken over from Mrs.Das and is the present incumbent.
Head of Home
The incumbent is responsible for the daily operations in the two homes, co-ordinating the activities of the matrons, the care staff and other employees.
A Typical Day at the Home
The day begins with a session of physical exercises/Yoga followed by getting ready. Then there is an assembly of all the residents. A period of silent prayer is followed by a group song and reading of headlines from day’s newspapers. After breakfast, the children go to their school or colleges. Others do productive work in the Home’s Craft Centre and look after the front out lets run by the Home. General cleaning of the Home is carried out in the mornings. Children studying in nearby schools are sent food for their lunch prepared in the Home’s kitchen. On return from school in the late afternoon,, the children wash up and have tea with other residents. After a little period of relaxation and arranging for their personal and other requirements as necessary from the office, they get busy with their homework and studies. The other residents get back from their activities for a period of social interaction including watching television programmes before dinner at 2000 hrs. Bed time for children is 2100 hrs while the older residents retire to bed at 2200 hrs.
The home has a very active choir which was started in 1991 with the help of a music teacher and some volunteers. The children are taught songs in English and in Indian languages. Choir practices take place on Saturday afternoons. The choir is greatly appreciated by visitors to the home and they are invited to sing carols during the winter festive season at Oberoi Hotel and in other places.
The Craft Centre mentioned earlier, has adult residents who are unable to go out to work. They are taught stitching, embroidery and knitting. They knit various designs depending on the expertise they have developed. They turn out pretty dresses for children of all ages, articles of general use in the home such as kitchen aprons, hand towels, table mats, napkins, bags and many such items. Many of these are ideal gift items and customers can select them for presentation to their friends and acquaintances from the outlets at the Front of the Home.
The products are also displayed at the annual Charity Bazar held every year on the first Saturday of December. The good off take on this occasion is a great inspiration to the residents who have spent time, effort and skills in producing them.
A Workshop space is provided for mainly non-resident persons with physical disabilities who come from nearby places. They take job work assignments from different companies in Bangalore who farm out simple engineering component assembly jobs and other sorting jobs. This activity provides occupational theraphy for the disabled and helps improve physical co-ordination, discipline and time management. It also helps improving their self worth.
The home receives gifts of used clothing and linen which are sorted by the residents. Majority of the articles are retained for use in the Home. The surplus is donated to other social service organizations and others are made available at nominal cost to the poor who visit our Thrift Shop.
The Whitefield Home
The home was started with the bequest of a property with a bungalow by James Macguckin, a Scottish planter. It is a refuge for destitute abandoned old ladies. They are cared for at the Home and find fellowship with one another. The place has since been expanded with two more blocks donated by Rotary club Indiranagar.