The next entry for the St Luke’s CARES Community Awards is the Friends of Cottingley Community Centre. For details of how YOUR community group can enter please click here. The deadline for entries is Wednesday 28 February 2018.
In 2016 a group of ladies decided to voluntarily create a group to help build up the community centre in Cottingley. Financially the centre was weak and had very little use. Both of those things combined put the facility at risk.
These ladies all have different experiences, abilities, cover all types of family life and each knows different groups on the estate. This was their key to gaining interest in the building itself.
Their aim was simple yet at times seemed almost impossible. They worked together with the centre manager and quickly turned the place around to become a busy, homely place open to working with agencies and residents alike. With renewed interest and an impressive turn around we are managing and not as at risk as we were. This at first was understandably daunting as they had no experience previously of running or being part of a constituted committee.
Aside from information gathering of what was needed in the area, the ladies progressed to starting their own groups and finding their own funding. Last year they secured a safer communities grant to run a group to give the younger children on the estate something to do for free. The aim was to tackle the age group that caused some of the anti–social behaviour discussed frequently on the estate’s social media site, get to know the children and create a bond between more adults and them and encourage a respect for where they live.
Team games showed the children how to work together and with adults and gave a chance for the children to discuss their own issues with the estate. They also had a lot of fun playing together in an indoor environment. From what we have seen some of the more extreme anti-social behaviour has stopped and the children know that they have support from a set of adults which has made some difference.
Playdays came about as there was no school holiday clubs the children could access without having to go off the estate. Donations from residents and paying for some things themselves the group created a weekly activity out of term time to fill that need. The children were able to meet up with their friends and create lots of different crafts with various themes.
It is still well attended and the volunteers always congratulate the children on what they have made and we ask for a display craft to put on our walls in the centre which the children and (sometimes parents!) are keen to do. A collective decision was made that leaflets and posters are great but we needed to show everyone that ultimately this is a community building and they should have pride in it as it’s for them. Displaying some fun and artful crafts was a way for us to allow some users to show that.
As well as starting their own groups the volunteers will help with other groups that come in. They volunteer with Youth Service, Live At Home and are more than happy to promote others and give them a hand when they need it, which is gratefully received.
There’s a lot of fun being had as you can read, but there is also a serious side at times to what the volunteers will help with.
Over the past two years we have helped families in need; women needing help to move from a domestic violence situation; children who have experienced bullying and racism; mental health issues; or someone just looking for someone to speak to and a cuppa.
We also lost a valuable member of the team, Miss Janet Neville who is still dearly missed.
As a group working with the manager they have achieved beyond what they thought they could do and with an extremely supportive community behind them they continue to flourish and progress the centre.
If the group is chosen to win a prize they would like to buy in more activities during the school holidays as our numbers are growing and we could put on more variety of activities.
This post was written by Christine Robinson using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.