Park South and Walcot Community Centre – granted £5,000

For many years the Park South and Walcot Community Centre has provided a space for the local community to come together. “The centre has a range of people and groups using it" said Ram Thiagarajah, Chair of Trustees at the centre. 

“We have groups that have used the space for many years for social activities including lunch clubs for different age groups, yoga classes, karate classes for children, and three separate church groups. It’s used for health reasons, such as by the NHS as a blood donation centre, a venue for exercise classes for people with disabilities and by AL-ANON – a support group for people whose lives have been affected by a friend of family member’s alcoholism. But we also see people using the space for one off family occasions such as birthdays and engagement parties, so it’s a real diverse mix”.

During lockdown the centre had to shut. As well as the impact this had on the community, it meant that the centre’s means of income which is used to cover running costs was cut off. This grant will go toward the costs the centre incurred during lockdown for things like insurance and utilities like water and electric, meaning they can reopen and start providing their community space once more.

The Nelson Trust – granted: £5,0 00

For more than 35 years, The Nelson Trust has provided programmes of support for those looking to recover from drug and alcohol addiction. 

In 2004, the Trust opened a Women’s Centre in Swindon to support women in different situations, from victims of domestic violence, to those who grew up in care and experienced trauma. As well as supporting women in the criminal justice system, it supports those at risk of entering the system. "Around 17,000 children per year are left without one or more parent when they enter the criminal justice system" Christina Line, Head of Business Development at the Trust, told us. ‘We aim to intervene as early as possible. When we first make contact with a women, she is allocated a key worker who she can build a therapeutic relationship with, discuss priorities, and who can support her through the journey". 

With the help of 23 staff, the Swindon Centre supports more than 750 women every year. As well as the one-to-one support with their key worker, some of the provisions the centre provide includes a creche, to look after children while mothers receive the support they need, engagement activities like lunch clubs where women can meet others and make friends, a peer mentoring service through which women can receive a qualification in peer mentoring and support others who have been through similar situations. The centre also runs an outreach service, which offers safety advice and contraception to women sex working and much more.

During lockdown the centre had to move some of its service online and temporarily stop its outreach service. "Luckily we have very close relationships with the police, Eastwood Park Prison in Thorbury (Swindon’s closest women’s prison) and other services" said Christine, "so were able to adapt and maintain contact with these women in different ways".

This grant will go towards funding the salary of one of the centre’s key workers. Click here to donate to The Nelson Trust, or to speak to the Trust about seeking support or enquire about volunteering, click here to find details of your closest centre.

The Open Door Centre - granted £5,000

From tennis to swimming, gardening to cultural day trips, The Open Door Centre provides a range of activities for adults with learning disabilities in the Swindon area. Hosting these activities in a safe and supportive environment, the charity enables more than 120 members to achieve their highest potential, encouraging them to be independent adults and understand their rights and choice. 

‘‘It’s wonderful to see people’s confidence grow as they take on new responsibilities and make new friends”, said Claire Bouverie-Brine, the charity’s Grants and Administration Officer. “Everyone has respect for one another and our members are involved in every aspect of how we run, including attending our Trustee meetings. Everyone is treated as equal and members are always keen to feed in suggestions for how we can improve and new activities to explore”. 

When lockdown was introduced in 2020, the charity had to stop all activities. The centre and its members were able to stay in touch with each other by phone and online and the centre’s chef continued to cook hot meals that people could collect and take away. “But it’s not the same as seeing each other in person and spending quality time together” said Claire, “We really are one big family, and we’ve all missed that”. 

When restrictions began to ease, the centre was been able to restart many of its activities with social distancing in place. This grant will fund a community outreach project to support the charity in visiting members at home and helping to alleviate any anxiety they may be feeling about meeting other people again in person.

If you’d like to donate to The Open Door Centre click here or if you’d like to join as a member or volunteer, call 01793 512357 or email opendoorswindon@gmail.com.