Community “Hubs” set to expand in York

The Foxwood Community Hub is popular

Councillors will consider next week a report outlining the achievements of several “community hubs” that were established in the City in 2017.

The hubs are located at Sanderson Court Community House, Foxwood Community Centre, Red Tower and Tang Hall Community Centre. There were similar initiatives in Clifton and Bell Farm.

More recently the Westfield school has announced it is opening a Hub and similar ventures have been promoted by JRHT and local churches.

The aim of the Hubs was primarily to promote financial inclusion. The project also delivered job fairs, volunteer development programmes and training and support for residents.

The project claims that the numbers attending a Hub are in the order of 200 a week. It is known that some residents attend more than one Hub. The Hubs are mainly serviced by, hardworking, volunteers.

The project claims to have served 9,000 meals, shared 5,460kg of food from supermarkets and redistributed up to 6 crates of apples and pears a week made available through “Abundance York”.

The CAB says it has directed 200 clients to an additional £210,000 worth of benefits.

The report sets out a bewildering proposal for “accreditation” for new centres. It seems to be a bureaucratic approach to an issue which requires flexibility. We doubt that this part of the plan will be welcomed by many of the volunteers.

The Council could also usefully provide a list of Hubs – with opening hours and facilities available – on their web site. Better use of social media to promote the initiative would be welcomed by many.

The report doesn’t give many clues as to what proportion of the target group has participated. It also singularly fails to mention that the City’s poorest area (Windsor Garth) has no Hub although there is a school building nearby.

Nevertheless, in a modest way – and particularly by providing a safety net for those suffering food poverty – the Hubs have proved to be a success and deserve continuing Council support.

Ironically the amount being spent on the Hubs is still less in total than was routinely provided to support Community Centres prior to the Labour Councils grant cuts introduced 8 years ago.

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