Since our community development trust was formed by local residents just over 2 years ago to save the former Church of the Ascension building from remaining empty and unused, all the hard efforts put in by each and every one of our volunteers has been rewarded by the presentation of the Big Society 2013 award from the office of the Prime Minister. In the short few years since, our new community centre in continually in use with a wide variety of new services, activities, events and partnerships, creating benefits for all. These include:
• “Young at Heart”, a social and learning club for older people
• A teenage youth club, run in partnership with the county council
• A parent and toddler group, run by volunteers
• Enterprise Coaching and Mentoring, helping people with the skills to create their own business
• Free basic IT classes, which are essential for helping people into employment and to assist older people in accessing information and services
Since 2010, the Trust has also seen:
• Over 300 people using the centre each week
• 80 people supported through free personal enterprise coaching service
• 40 people back into employment in the last 18 months
• £75,000 raised for the renovation of the community centre
• A newsletter that now reaches 3,000 homes each quarter
Commenting on the award Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“These volunteers have taken an empty shell of a building and transformed it into a thriving community centre. I’m pleased to be able to pay tribute to them – they had the vision to see what was possible and the determination to make it a reality.
“Whether it’s vulnerable older people, people who feel isolated or young people who need support getting into the workforce, the centre is empowering local people and giving them new opportunities. This is what the Big Society is all about.”
Simon Redding from Loundsley Green Community Trust said:
“We’re really happy that the hard work all our volunteers have been doing over the last few years has been recognised in the Big Society Awards. Anyone can do this – we just saw an opportunity to make a turning point in our community and we all grouped together to make it happen.”
Thanks to our great team of volunteers, regular publicity around the local community and careful management of our finances, the centre now pays its own way and will be sustainable for many years to come while still offering inexpensive (or free) room hire to charity and community groups. We will also continue to host and promote regular activities to keep the centre lively to ensure it is constantly in use by residents.
Future developments and activities are generated through open monthly community meetings & surveys. This has resulted in the recent launch of the town’s second food bank in recent week at our centre, in partnership with local churches and the Trussell Trust. September will see the completion of a kitchen refurbishment and the launch of inter-generational cookery classes – passing on experience and skills to future local chefs.
Our community trust is always looking for new volunteers to join us in changing our community for the better – if you’d like to help please contact us!