Neighbours determined to restore their local community centre have received a donation from the Homes Plus My Community Fund.
In lockdown residents of an estate in Harlescott decided to give a new lease of life to the centre, transforming the disused building into a new community hub.
Having formed a band of trustees, they set about repairing and improving the building. Much of the work has been carried out by the volunteers themselves, helped by local businesses and other organisations. Now Homes Plus has provided funding for an energy-efficient boiler making the centre comfortable to use, all year round.
Nadine is one of the women behind the ambitious project, together with Homes Plus customers Leanne and Amy.
“The building had been empty for some time and was not in a good state. We knew that it could become something special for this close-knit community and that it would help bring people together again after such a long period of lockdown and social distancing,” Nadine said.
“We rolled-up our sleeves and got busy cleaning, painting, and doing as much of the work as we could, ourselves. It has been a massive project, but we have had a lot of support from the community and it is incredibly rewarding to see the transformation.”
Along the way, the volunteers have gained new skills and qualifications in building maintenance, safeguarding, first aid and mental health support. As the new facilities took shape though, Nadine explained that there was still one big problem:
“The building didn’t have a boiler, which meant that there was no heating or hot water. We used to bring kettles from home, so that we could mop the floor and wore our coats indoors while we were working.”
We stepped in to provide a new boiler, through our Homes Plus My Community Fund which supports people and groups making a positive difference in Staffordshire and Shropshire.
Sam Allcott is director of housing at Homes Plus and explains why it was so important to support the project:
“I went to meet the incredible women behind this transformation and saw everything that they had achieved. We were all really impressed by their drive, energy and commitment to their own community. This is a true neighbourhood project on an estate where a lot of our customers live, and we wanted to help. Our involvement doesn’t end here, we hope to be able to provide advice and support to people using the new Community Hub.”
The centre has a new name to match its new look. It is now known as Harlescott Grange Community Hub, reflecting its place at the heart of the neighbourhood. There is already a lot going on there, with a busy calendar of activities from boxercise classes to food share, arts and crafts and family days. A community café will help bring people together for a coffee and a chat.
Importantly, everyone finds a warm welcome, thanks to the new boiler.
“There were a few tears on the day that it was installed,” Naomi admitted. “To step inside and feel the warmth made such a difference and brought the building to life.
“It has meant a lot for people to see level of support that we have received from Homes Plus. Many of the residents are Homes Plus tenants and they have been able to see their housing association working with us to improve our community.”
Local charities, voluntary groups and community organisations can apply for funding from the Homes Plus My Community Fund online.