Project affiliate - Aviva Plc logo image

Place of Welcome Community Hub

by Andrew Gray in Gillingham, England, United Kingdom


Gift Aid
+ est. £278.75
£3,000 stretch target 11 days left
111% 45 supporters
Flexible funding – this project will receive all pledges made by 16th December 2020 at 11:59pm

We desperately need to raise money to enable us to further expand our ability to offer more community based services from the community hub.

by Andrew Gray in Gillingham, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Any extra money would be fantastic and enable us to buy some new curtains - the old ones are in tatters!  We would also be able to get some paint to brighten it up and get some new carpet.  

Our project aim.


Our project is about modernising and refreshing a tired room so that we can expand and provide more community support with our social prescriber partners and friends. We want to make the room more cheerful and bright  giving an uplifting welcome to the many folk who are in such need of support.  We also want to do up a toilet block which is decidedly dated! Current facilities are also not fully compliant and we seek to remedy this as soon as possible. 1604930641_avivaroom.jpg

Our project is community driven and will allow us to expand an inclusive and supportive approach that will further underpin community engagement. Our rapidly growing Place of Welcome community café hub and partnerships with agencies working with us to address social isolation, means that we urgently need to spruce up an additional room and toilets that will allow us to meet rapidly growing community needs. Having increased facilities will mean that they can be immediately used to further support the work of social inclusion agencies including Royal British Legion Industries, Autism South East and the Princess Project given, as an example, the latter’s work with young struggling Mums. Greater functional facilities will also permit us to offer training on mental health, deliver careers and employment advice and provide workshops on computer literacy.

Our overall community project is based upon simple principles. We want everyone in our neighbourhood to have a place to go for a friendly face, a cup of tea and a conversation if and when they need it. It is about providing a place for people to connect with one another, find belonging and offer gifts and skills that interest them. 

Why is our project great?

It is great because it is open to everyone regardless of their circumstances or situation, and is staffed by volunteers and community support workers. It is providing a place where people are actively listening to one another, where basic local information is provided, and where simple conversations can be had in a non judgemental way. But it is also great in providing space and time to work with people requiring professional counselling and in enabling social prescriber agencies to come together supporting the needy. It has been wonderful and humbling to see someone who came to us a year ago with no confidence or conversation now a completely changed person and one of the volunteers assisting with refreshments. And to see how another person, with similar issues, now has the confidence through nurturing and simple conversations, to be helping set up a Book Club as part of the community hub. 

Who we are.

The Place of Welcome community hub is an initiative by the church governing body that seeks to open up an under used building to be a resource available to support inclusive initiatives 7 days a week. 1604936953_img-20201109-wa0005_(1).jpgThrough talking with healthcare professionals including GPs, a chemist, social workers, and local traders we decided to do something about the many social issues affecting the community.  We talked to the local Primary Headteacher about the issues troubling parents; we hosted a social prescriber day; we engaged with MIND to host training on suicide awareness; we ran an event with Turning Point focused on the affect of alcohol on relationships.  

Our Community focused journey.

We have been amazed and touched at how many social prescriber and other support groups believe in our vision and what we are seeking to build in an area sadly lacking in anywhere to go.  We all share a goal to offer support to the community. We have, and are, developing themed offerings from the café, with our social prescriber friends, Medway Council staff and with new charities like the Princess Project and Paramount Foundation. 

We have formed a Community Steering Group comprising many of the prescriber agencies along with a local Primary Headteacher and other professionals to guide responsiveness to the community from the community hub and are seeking to further expand service provision. We are excited by the energy and interest being shown from an increasing range of partners wanting to help further develop service provision including an organisation wanting to teach basic computer skills, one in support of those with neurological conditions and another working with families to assist with parents struggling with maintaining a roof over their families.1604918412_aviva.jpg

Its been really cool to see how those who have been coming to the community hub and café for sometime have grown in confidence and are now helping serve refreshments or in other ways. Seeing them laughing and being able to have conversations with others has been truly rewarding and has only served to encourage us to do more. In fact one person has taken on responsibility for helping to set up a film club that will offer films to all including teenagers, families, and others such as those with dementia. 

We are eternally grateful for the help we are having from local volunteers and from Asda, who have supplied games, puzzle books and tea and coffee. We are seeking now to secure some funding to help us have some civilised and functional facilities that will directly enable us to encourage even further community engagement. 

Our Vision.

We started our weekly Place of Welcome community café hub in June 2019 following research amongst our local community: the community is in one of the most deprived areas of the South East with acute issues around loneliness, social isolation, personal levels of debt and both alcohol and drug dependency.  Our vision was and remains to provide a centre of hospitality in a community which has been sadly neglected in local regeneration plans. We wanted to use the huge space in the local church to provide a centre for the community where people would be welcome, could engage in simple conversation, be listened to, and be supported in a non judgemental way. Our community support model is about building partnerships with social prescriber agencies and health care bodies so that advice and support to those in real need could be provided as the central part of the Place of Welcome Community hub. 

A Tai Chi class led by Medway Adult Education


A partnership with Social Prescriber agencies and others who believe in our project.

We have been humbled by how our community initiative has developed. From a simple start with a few people attending, at the point of the Covid 19 lockdown some 45 people were coming along weekly receiving hospitality and support. A number of agencies and organisations were and continue to work with us:

  • Royal British Legion Industries providing employment and other specialist tailored guidance:
  • Turning Point meeting clients with alcohol and drug dependency:
  • Autism South East supporting those with autism:
  • Medway Asthma Self Help group advising and working with those who have breathing problems: 
  • Walking World - Pilates and keep fit classes
  • The Paramount Foundation - Fitness 1605540121_20201111_092551.jpg

  • SATEDA – a domestic abuse agency:
  • The Princess Project – supporting young Mums with clothes and essential baby provisions:
  • Medway Adult Education – providing courses in the community for the community:1604937251_crafts_flyer_sized_for_facebook.jpg
  • Kent Police Community support:
  • MIND – courses on suicide and mental health awareness:
  • Medway Citizens Advice Bureau: - whole range of advice and guidance. 
  • Medway Community Healthcare – supporting the needs of those with Diabetes:
  • Healthwatch Medway – working in partnership with us to delivering first aid health checks into the community. 

We resumed the Place of Welcome Community hub in early September 2020 and are seeing even greater need for the community support being provided from it. As elsewhere nationally times are desperate for many local families and socially isolated people: more and more people are coming to the hub and our social inclusion partners wish to offer more specialist support and counselling from the buildings.  There is increased loneliness, mental illness, domestic abuse, mounting debts, and homes at risk especially amongst the many renters locally. As someone said to us "These problems are like dominoes for our most vulnerable people, toppling one on top of the other". 

We are finding that the systems the vulnerable thought was in place to look after them are much more precarious than they realised. The famous safety net for the needy has lots of holes in it. It is very hard for some to access these systems because they require verbal and computer literacy.  For a bewildered, suddenly vulnerable person, we are trying to show compassion to those who find it so hard to know where to turn first. They need clear, visible, local assistance and signposting. A place they can trust; where they know they will be listened to. That is what our social partners and we are seeking to respond to from the hub. 


How will the funds be spent? 

Any money raised will enable us to:

  • Replaster a wall in poor state of repair:1604930290_avivawall.jpg
  • Paint the room so that it is welcoming, bright, refreshed and with new curtains:
  • Replaster and then paint a toilet block which is dismal and depressing, let alone unsatisfactory to young Mums in particular along with those with acute anxiety, depression and dementia and:1604930310_20201109_130207.jpg

  • Provide more functional facilities from which further community engagement can be developed. 
  • Make the facilities compliant with disability legislation. 
  • A real bonus would be to be able to purchase an indoors carpet bowls set to allow us to offer more to senior citizens and help with their wellbeing but we have to do the other areas first! 

Thank you to all those who have believed in what we are trying to do with the local community. Your support means so much and is spurring us on to do even more - thinking of indoor community curling s well as indoor bowls for next year now too!! 


Let's make 'Place of Welcome Community Hub' happen

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