Hello and welcome to my May blog. I want to use this month’s blog to talk about an area I’m especially proud of – community investment. I’m highlighting one Community Centre in particular, and the value of investing in the services there.

At Southway we take great pride in our neighbourhoods, and work with local partners and community groups, making a financial investment in many.

Amongst these are Barlow Moor Community Association and Men in Sheds in Merseybank (Chorlton), Community Minded in Old Moat, Ladybarn Community Hub, Burnage Library, and Westcroft Community Centre (in Burnage). I really recommend looking into what these organisations can offer you, as they provide brilliant and free resources on your doorstep.

I recently visited Westcroft Community Centre which since opening in 2012 has grown into a vibrant community hub in the heart of the Southway area, highlighting why community investment is so important:

Social links

Last week was National Mental Health Awareness Week, a good time to discuss that research shows that having social connections is linked to maintaining a sense of wellbeing. Tackling social isolation is a priority for Southway’s investment; so we support community groups and centres which allow neighbours to create and maintain connections in free local spaces, on the basis of shared experience, hobbies and interests, needs and goals.

At Westcroft Community Centre, a session called ‘Eat, Meet and Greet’ runs on Mondays, where the group connects over the cooking of a variety of meals from different cultures. It’s free and everyone is welcome, making it a great event to attend solo, to meet new people.

Volunteering & work

Volunteers are at the heart of Westcroft’s success. The centre relies on the commitment and skills of 10 volunteers, 8 of whom Southway tenants, who deliver and support most of the programme. Their dedication to providing a warm and welcoming environment was recognised recently at the Spirit of Manchester Awards, where Westcroft won Community Space of the Year.

As well as helping our communities thrive, volunteering is hugely beneficial, having been shown to have favourable effects on depression and life satisfaction. Westcroft is always looking for more volunteers so if you’d like to get involved with Westcroft’s Board, running the centre itself or volunteering regularly, please let us know.

If you’re in search of other types of work, Jobs Club runs from the centre on Thursdays and offers help with job searching, CV writing and more. Westcroft’s club has helped 17 people into employment since last Summer, and it’s one of four clubs now running across south Manchester’s community centres.

Skills and skill-sharing

Learning throughout life is linked with a greater sense of satisfaction, optimism, and confidence - community centres run an array of courses and classes so there’s usually something for everyone.

At Westcroft there are sessions like crafts, sewing, English for beginners and support with using computers. These relaxed classes offer the opportunity to learn from experienced local people in a friendly environment. There are also many one-off courses and events, so check online for these.

We work with a variety of partners to deliver the programme including Career Connect, the Be Well Team, the NHS, Slimming World and Positive Birthing Movement. They bring different expertise allowing residents to access the best of south Manchester’s services under one roof.

We’d love to hear from anyone who has a skill to share and wants to get involved at the centre. Helping others has further positive effects on wellbeing, and offers great experience for a CV or personal goal.

Projects that grow

‘Quids In’ Food Club is one of the most successful services at the centre; members pay £2 per week for produce up to the value of £15, which always includes a variety of fresh foods, tinned items and cereals. Since beginning at Westcroft three years ago, ‘Quids In’ has helped over 250 residents and families and an additional four clubs now run across the Southway area. We plan to develop ‘Quids In’ further by adding cooking sessions to the weekly meetings, so members can make delicious, healthy meals from their weekly produce. Members have now made the club social, and ITV has even taken an interest in the unique project and filmed there!

If you’re interested in joining ‘Quids In’, please contact us here.

 If you would like to see the centre for yourself, please pop in any time, for a chat and a brew with the team. Informal use of the centre is always encouraged, and I recommend Monday’s ‘Eat, Meet and Greet’ sessions if you’d like to get a taste of the programme. And, why not come to the National Play Day Fun Day on Tuesday 6th August? This is free and brilliant for families in the school holidays.

Please leave me any comments on this blog, or suggestions for future blogs, in the comment box below, and I will get back to you.

Karen

  • Westcroft Community Centre is open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm
  • Eat, Meet and Greet runs Mondays 9.30am – 1pm
  • View the full timetable on Westcroft's website

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