Your donations are crucial for this community resource to re-open to the public. It means Abbotshall's green space will remain available for all ages to enjoy; the café can return as a vital social hub; the classes and activities can continue to run.
Abbotshall, as it's locally known, is like the village green of our corner of South-East London. Outdoors, there's a wide open green space where city-bound children and adults can roam free, and a volunteer-led community garden supplying the café with fresh produce. The indoor studio is the venue for a range of classes, exercise groups and social activities; while the café provides not only healthy, fresh-cooked meals but a warm welcome to all. Regular seasonal events provide opportunities to bring the whole community together.
Abbotshall supports local residents' physical, emotional and social wellbeing; it promotes enjoyment of green outdoor space; it's a vital social connection for many. We know that visitors come to Abbotshall from far and wide - not just the tight-knit Corbett Estate but from Catford, Hither Green, Downham and Bellingham.
In July 2023, after the cumulative effects of Covid lockdowns and the cost of living crisis, Abbotshall was forced to close its doors to the public due to a funding crisis. Since then, a new Board of Trustees has formed consisting of 7 local volunteers with a range of vital skill sets, who have committed to spending 6-8 hours a week (or much more in some cases!) for at least 3 years securing the HLC's future. Thanks to a very generous local supporter, the new Board has raised the funds to settle existing debts to its employees. Now we need your help to re-open the doors.
Our mission is not just to bring Abbotshall HLC back to the former vibrant community hub it was - but to put in place rigorous governance and oversight from the Board and a strategic plan to secure its future. We believe a vital component to the centre's success is higher levels of engagement with the local community, with opportunities to volunteer and provide feedback; and improved activities for sectors of our community who might previously have felt left out.
The money will go towards the costs of re-opening the centre: making any necessary repairs; buying stock and supplies; re-building relationships with local suppliers and supporters; preparing the café to re-open; updating any required subscriptions that the café needs in order to run; checking updated prices; conducting feedback in our community for the products and services they need; researching and launching a new improved café menu.
Once the café is off the ground, we plan to improve and expand the services Abbotshall offers. Taking inspiration from other successful local charities, we are building a team of volunteers who can help us run events and extend opening hours, while still keeping our prices affordable for local families. We plan to forge strong partnerships with local charities, businesses, schools and NHS bodies. We will bring back the events that have already become fixtures in the local calendar - and introduce more!
Our wonderful local community has helped Abbotshall HLC twice before: once when the charity was first formed at the end of 2018; again at the beginning of 2020. Your generosity then enabled the charity to submit a successful tender to Lewisham Council to rent the space; to create the café and community volunteer garden; to run social events, exercise classes and postnatal support; to provide a space for our local schools to hold sports days; to offer all it has to our community for the last five years.
You can help now by:
- Making a donation. Whatever you can give, you are helping to open this vital social and environmental treasure back up to the public again.
- Sharing this page. Send it to your friends, share it in your WhatsApp groups, put it on your Instagram and Facbook. Become that weird friend who won't stop going on about the local charity (your friends won't think you're weird, honest. They'll just think you're passionate :-) )
- Offering rewards. Are you a local business that wants to show your support? We will shout from the rooftops about any business partners that can offer rewards for donations!
- Volunteering. We are still looking for a few extra Board members with specific skills and experience - and we're particularly keen to hear from people who may feel their sector of the community isn't represented on our existing Board. But if you can't make that level of time commitment (understandable!) we would still LOVE to hear from you. If you can help in the café occasionally, give us a hand with getting ready for events, be there running events, help out with administrative tasks or funding applications, or even just be around sometimes to let people in who've hired the space - please get in touch! https://abbotshallhlc.org.uk/volunteering
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts and from all your local community, for your support.