How On-going Work has Evolved
The drastic reduction in available funding from statutory and other sources led the Parish of the Good Shepherd to seek alternative ways of keeping the Holy Trinity Church and Community Centre open for the benefit of the local community. We have sought where possible to encourage local groups to use the centre and have worked with them where possible to help them to take responsibility for their own management and fund raising. We believe that this develops capacity within the local community and enables local people to take control of things which have an important impact in their lives and the life of the local community.
We believe that the best, and perhaps only place to start an evaluation, is with the people who have grown through participating in the life of the local community centred on Holy Trinity Church and Community Centre.
We provide below a number of case studies – some which are project focussed and some which reflect on the impact of the Church and Community Centre on individuals. These case studies demonstrate the capacity that has been built up over the years thanks to what we call the “Grow our own” process or Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). They demonstrate the power of our work, with its focus on ABCD, to truly transform lives and communities, particularly those most difficult to reach.
Over the past 10 years, first through SPY and then as a stand-alone project, the Church and Community Centre has been the focal point for a process that is committed to an understanding that the real long term solutions needed within a deprived community exist in the community. We encourage all to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
To evidence the benefits of this approach we provide a brief snap shot of the People who give their time to give something back not only to the Centre and users of the Centre but to the wider community. Collectively the groups which they run, and to which they belong, provide over 36 hours of activity 7 days per week. This evaluation is a tribute to these people, groups and projects and all they do. The Church and Community Centre is a means to an end and the work of those who are employed in the Centre and of volunteers is focused on developing local skills and capacity and bringing hope to a community which struggles to see a positive future.
At present we employ a Community Development Worker 24 hours/week, funded through the Parish of the Good Shepherd and supportive grants from Manchester Diocese and the Church and Community Fund. This Community Development Worker has wide experience in work with groups in the West End of Ashton and encourages individuals and groups to develop their own skills and to determine how best to meet local need. It is to extend and develop this work that we have established a new programme called, “People Place and Presence.” This project will commence in March 2017.
Holy Trinity Church and Community Centre is right at the heart of the local community which is known as ‘Holy Trinity’. The Centre is in many ways the beating heart of the community and would leave a large void if it had to close. Its presence in the community is a sign of hope and of a commitment to the community by others, particularly the Parish of the Good Shepherd and Manchester Diocese.
The process of reshaping the building for a shared community and worship use has been outlined above. It is a process which continues to develop and which will see greater community use of more of the building as the years unfold. At present the Church and Community Centre has the following facilities available to the local community:
Church: The main worship area can be hired for a number of different appropriate activities which can include concerts, lectures/talks, rehearsal space as well as Christian worship. In addition there is a small lady chapel which is used for regular worship and contemplative prayer. In use, the main area of the church is approximately 200 m2 and can accommodate upwards of 200 people and with chairs moved to the side, an open area of approximately 88m2 is available.
Downstairs Hall: The Main Hall downstairs in the Community centre is approximately 88m2. A low level stage can be provided. The seating capacity in the Hall is approximately 60 people. The Hall is suitable for a variety of activities including: Table Tennis, Karate, Martial Arts, Community Dining, Parent and Toddler Groups, Dance and Movement Groups, etc.
Community Kitchen: The Community Centre has a fully equipped 16m2 kitchen which is currently used two days a week by local groups working with the elderly. The kitchen is underused and has the potential to operate as a community café providing cheap affordable meals to the community. It also has the potential to provide a Home Meal Delivery Service. It has a food hygiene rating from Tameside MBC of 5.
Downstairs Offices: There are two offices available at ground floor level for hire on a short-term or long-term basis. Hot-desking can also be considered. These two offices are approximately 9m2 and 17m2, respectively.
Toilet Facilities: Excellent men’s, women’s and disabled facilities are available at ground floor level in the Community Centre.
Upstairs Hall: The Main Upstairs Hall is approximately 81m2. A low level stage can be provided. The seating capacity in the Hall is approximately 60 people. This is an excellent room for meetings in the summer months. It has a small kitchen facility provided in a side room. Disabled access to the upper floor is via a chair lift.
Upstairs Offices: There are four offices available upstairs and these can be hired on a short-term or long-term basis. These four offices are 13m2, 15m2, 20m2 and 21m2 respectively.
The centre is a well-used and loved local facility. We charge £12 per hour for non-community groups and £10 per hour for community groups, we also help community groups when funding is not available.
We are flexible and provide much more than just a place for activities, including rent holidays, storage, meeting space, joined up working opportunities. We operate 9am until 10pm 7 days per week.
We estimate that at present we provide 36.5 hours per week contact time for the 10 community groups and weight watchers each week and there are over 10,000 contacts each year thanks to these groups.
We also provide space for many different community activities, holiday provision, private celebration events, birthday parties, mendis, ESOL, ICT, fundraising events, rehearsal space. In the past 12 months there have been over 40 different occasions when the centre has been used in this way.
At present the down stairs is approximately run to 70% capacity.
Upstairs, which has disabled access thanks to an Awards for All grant is used by the Ashton Women’s Group and Ashton Youth Club who both have an office. The large meeting hall is less well used. There is approximately 90% under-utilisation of this space and therefore room for further development for new initiatives. One of the barriers to this space being used more often is the cold during the winter months as heating this large space is expensive.
The total income from rent and room hire is approximately £12,000 per year.
There is overwhelming community support for the Church and Community Centre’s work. This is demonstrated by 500 questionnaires completed at a recent community event in the Centre. We consulted on the basis of the following vision:
To provide a Community Centre for the people of the Holy Trinity Neighbourhood in the West End of Ashton and the wider St. Peter’s Ward, through which individuals of all ages, and community groups, will have access to meeting spaces, advice, information and guidance, educational, social and leisure opportunities.
To ensure the longer term viability of this Community Centre by working with others to access community grants and encourage a degree of self–sustainability from income from the services we provide.
Some ancillary questions were asked as well.
The results of this consultation can be seen overleaf. These results were of particular encouragement to the Management Committee as it worked to develop a clear strategy for the future.
100% of respondents supported the Vision and also supported empowerment of the local community. Only 2% expressed a concern about the Centre promoting community cohesion, multi-culturalism and engaging in issues beyond the immediate confines of the local community.