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The Heart of Community: An Appeal

You will have seen from one of our recent newsletters that we lost one of our main hirers when Preschool returned to Furnace Barn. This represents a considerable financial loss of around 40% of our hire income. This coupled with the recent fuel price increases has put us in an unsecure financial situation. The other recent blow to the Centre is the upcoming retirement of Maureen Richardson. Maureen has been with the Centre for many years and is known to many as the beating heart of The Centre. A number of groups that are really important to this community wouldn’t be what they are today without the determination and devotion that Maureen has given to them.

These two significant circumstances come together to put the Centre in a difficult situation. The financial position we are now in means we are not able to replace Maureen’s role or the number of hours she put into The Centre. This means that without the community support, there are a few groups that may not be able to continue. Over the coming weeks we will be putting out pleas for individual groups to be returned to the community.

Our vision for The Centre @ Halton over the coming months and years is to be in the community, for the community, by the community.
And we really want to stand by this going forward.

As an example, pre-pandemic, the toddler group was run by a group of people from within our community. Some were mums with young children, some had older children. The group worked on a small rota for someone to run a craft activity, someone making teas and coffees, someone serving the snack and someone else to run the story and song time. Everyone on that rota and everyone who attended chipped in to help set up the room and tidy away at the end. The group collected their own entrance charges and paid rent to the Centre. This is the model we would like to use to return some of our groups to the community. We will start with the Baby and Toddler group and eventually groups such as Soup and a Song and Luncheon Club will follow suit. 

If at this point you are a member of one of these groups and it has been important to you, we really call on you to commit to helping these groups to continue to run. They support members of our community and for some become a real life line at important stages of life such as new parenthood or retirement.  What we really need at this stage is all hands on deck! We have the ideas and the physical resources, we just need the community force behind them to put them into play. If you have a skill that you think we would be able to use in the running of these groups, please come forward and speak to one of us in the Office.  I know we would all be devastated if the Centre @ Halton was not able to continue in the same way it has done in the previous years. For many it has been a source of comfort, a place to meet with others, and a place of support particularly coming out of the pandemic and lock down periods. It would be a real shame for that true centre of the community to disappear. 

Here are 5 things you can do right now to support your community centre. 

  1. Spread the word: Forward this email to anyone you know who uses the Centre. Make sure they are on our newsletter subscriber list. Follow us on Facebook, like our updates, share our posts and engage with us to spread the word of who and where we are.
  2. Come and use the Coffee Shop: The Coffee Shop earns us a really good income with its profits being donated back into the Centre to support the work we do. Buy a coffee and a piece of cake, grab the grand/kids a biscuit or lollipop or meet a friend for lunch. 
  3. Hire our space: Do you have a birthday party coming up? A family celebration? Have you always wanted to run a photography course? A gymnastics session but haven’t found the space? Come and speak to us and see what our availability is. We have availability for one off hires as well as regular sessions. 
  4. Give us your time: We know we say it a lot but we really do rely on the time and dedication of our volunteers. We cannot run our community groups and fundraising events without the support of volunteers. Whether it is a small but still important contribution of making a cake or a larger time contribution of washing up after Soup and a Song or serving food at Luncheon Club. It could be for half an hour every other week, it could be up to 2 hours every week. We can be flexible, we will accept anyone! You don’t need to have any previous experience as we will guide you through it all. There is no audition – having a community heart is all you need! 
  5. Coordinate a group: If you think you have what it takes to coordinate one of our groups which would involve a slightly more significant amount of time given to your community, please come forward, we would love to discuss it with you. 

We have a vision for the future, we just need your help to put it into action. 

A final thought – for those of you who regularly use or help at the Centre, we know who you are. You are seen, you are appreciated. We love having you. Next time you come, bring a friend!  

Thank you

Naomi Turner

Halton Community Association