Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Centre a very open door sort of place

Anyone with ideas for a special interest group or a course could do well to go down to the Southwater Centre in Stainsby Street, where free space is being offered for community activities.
The Southwater Area Community Centre was set up in 2002 as a catalyst for revitalising the community spirit of the neighbourhood. The distinctive pale green building, opposite St Leonards Warrior Square railway station, was formerly the Clifton Tavern.
Part of the Southwater Renewal area programme, it focuses on social regeneration to run alongside the physical regeneration of the area. The Centre works closely  with the Southwater Area Residents’ Assn.
The Centre’s potential for rejuvenating the community life of the area is enormous. A whole range of activities already takes place in the centre, and there is plenty of opportunity for more. Anyone who wants to start up a group or run a course is welcome to contact the manager, Patrick Bennett.
Patrick joined the Centre as manager eighteen months ago. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations. Patrick describes the Centre as being, “A very open door sort of place. We give people two hours of free space a week for ten weeks to start up a course or a group. After ten weeks they then become paying clients.The fees are very low.”
There are two rooms available for hire, a small room for up to five people and a large room for up to thirty. There is full disabled access, and a cafe. Patrick continued, “There is a kitchen available as well, and a projector. It’s a nice little venue. Anybody at all can hire it. We’re completely non-political. We don’t run courses ourselves, but we help anyone who wants to do so. We are here to help local people.” Current regular activities going on at the Community Centre include yoga, meditation, a book club, a gardening group, a fruit and vegetable stall, coffee mornings, an evangelist and Bible-reading group, and Forever Living Products (natural health and beauty). The Southwater Centre team is also very interested in showcasing local artists.  He said, “The Centre has just been redecorated inside, and we are going to get solar panels installed so that we can be self-sufficient with heating and hot water.”
He continued, “We also have the building next door, which we have turned into offices and let out to provide funds for the centre.”
New volunteers to help with the running of the Centre are always welcome. Anyone interested in either availing themselves of the free space offered or in volunteering should contact Patrick on 01424 461414.

Bridgebuilder- helping people back into the community

An office in the main building is used by Bridgebuilder, an organisation which helps people with low-level mental health problems get back into the community again after a period of isolation. People are referred from a variety of sources, and a talk with the friendly staff identifies ways in which integration back into community life can be accomplished. This could be through leisure activities, volunteering, or employment.
“We will act like a professional friend, helping to guide the person through the process.” said Bridgebuilder Marcia Vincent. “Help is available for every aspect of their lives.”
Marcia and colleague Sally Burr also run the “Walk-in to Wellbeing” advice sessions, covering a range of issues concerning health and wellbeing, at the WRVS in South Street. To date, Bridgebuilder has helped 172 people since the office opened in April 2008. “Having Bridgebuilder here is mutually beneficial,” says Patrick. “Some of the people helped have gone on to become volunteers at the Community Centre.”

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