ARCOS was formed in London in 1991 and registered as a charity in January 1992. All the members of the founding group were aware of the enormous improvements for children and adults with communication difficulties made possible by the latest advances in knowledge, skills and technology. A central figure was Helga Ryf. Unable to speak following two strokes, she learned to type using her toe. A pianist and linguist, Helga typed in English, French and German. Helga believed that “the ability to communicate effectively is an enormous contribution to independence and controlling one’s own life.”
The ARCOS Centre
In 1993, ARCOS moved to Malvern in order to provide a nationwide consultation and training service from a central base in the West Midlands. Thanks to grant funding, in particular from the BBC Children In Need Appeal, ARCOS could now welcome clients to the Centre and initiate an outreach service making it possible for clients to be seen in their own homes. A small equipment library was also founded.
In response to the increased demand for services, ARCOS moved to larger premises in Malvern in 1998. Donations enabled ARCOS to furnish and equip the Centre with three therapy rooms, a meeting/reception area for a drop-in facility and an extended equipment loan library, all with wheelchair access. Loan items ranged from alternative communication devices such as the Lightwriter to therapeutic seating in the form of six saddle-seated wheelchairs. These were purchased with a generous donation from the Allied Dunbar Foundation.
The ARCOS Centre relocated to Hatherton Lodge in July 2011. Remaining in Malvern but in more spacious accommodation with long-term security of tenure and importantly car parking. It has also allowed us to found the SMILE project which you can read more about by clicking here. Extensive refurbishment was required and this continues in order to allow for expansion of service provision.