City of York Council is starting new drop-in sessions as part of its support for a very successful community-led project being run from a church in Acomb.
The sessions will be held at Lidgett Grove Methodist Church which is developing into a community hub. There, council officers will offer information and advice to local people on housing issues, anti-social behaviour or housing-related debt, as well as offering advice and information to anyone wanting to get more involved in the community. These will run on Wednesday mornings between 9.30 and 11.30am from Wednesday 9 July.
The church’s work started by setting up a very successful Community Café inspired by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s work on loneliness: what causes it and how to combat it. In Carr the main causes of loneliness were aging, family issues, not knowing neighbours, a lack of community facilities and chances to get involved with the community. Among the solutions identified were establishing a central location where people can find information, meet others and get support and services.
In summer 2013, a community café offering company and activities started up as a pilot scheme. It was so well-supported and popular that it carried on and now runs every Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:30am.
Inspired by the café’s success, a steering group was formed to see how this idea of a community hub could be developed. Steering group partners included Lidgett Grove Methodist Church, the council’s housing team, its ward community involvement team, Explore York Libraries and Archives, Carr Children’s Centre as well as Carr Infant and Carr Junior Schools, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, York College, York Timebank and Healthwatch York.
Among the development discussions underway are conversations with Explore York Libraries and Archivesto develop a presence at the hub. York College students have been involved in design projects for the building’s modifications and grants are being sought to fund them. The students also fitted a new kitchen donated by Howdens, and the church office has been furnished thanks to Langley’s solicitors, which add to the facilities.
The community-led project is also now able to offer extra events alongside the café. These include Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s ‘Dig In’ project for which Time Bank volunteers have created raised beds in the grounds where local people can learn to grow their own food. There have also been training opportunities and more are planned.