North Taunton Partnership is the charity that runs Priorswood Community Centre, supporting some of the most vulnerable in the local community. They hold daily advice surgeries, social, fitness, and educational groups, coffee mornings and youth activities.
We spoke to the Manager, Lesley Councill, who told us more about what they do, and how a £2,000 grant from The Somerset Fund contributed towards school holiday youth activities, providing fun, friendship and support for low-income families in the area.
“At the centre, we’re here for all residents of North Taunton, young and old alike; we’re totally inclusive. We’re here Monday to Friday for drop-ins, where people can come and have a cup of tea and a chat. The local police, housing benefit and Citizens Advice, they’re all here – there’s no appointment needed. People can just come along and get advice.
We have all sorts of social and educational groups, and activities: Lunch Club, Tai Chi, Menopause Support, Bereavement Support, Knit and Natter, Digital Support…the list goes on!
Most of the people we see here are experiencing loneliness and isolation. They come to see a friendly face. We’re a one stop shop for people who might need support and advice; we do a lot of signposting. We’re seeing lots of people in financial need at the moment.
Our grant from The Somerset Fund supported our Pride in Priorswood Summer Youth Activities last year. Our summer holidays activities started 15 years ago, when we noticed there were young families that had nothing to do in the summer months. So we brought a few footballs along to the park, and it’s just grown organically over the years into what we have now.
We’re serving the most deprived community in west Somerset and Taunton, and many families are unable to go on family days out or longer summer holidays. Our summer activities event is open access, held at Lyngford Park. It’s on for 5 weeks over the summer holidays and we have themed weeks, such as crafts, sports, activities, music and more. There are also lots of outside stalls offering advice and guidance, such as NHS, dental care, talking therapies, health and wellbeing, RSPCA, Wildlife Trust, and the resilience drugs bus. It brings the community together and no one has to pay.
Quite often parents and carers tell us it’s a lifeline to them. Parents make connections, and the children make friends from different schools. We see lots of new friendships and people building and strengthening their connections in the community.
Funding – such as the grant we received from The Somerset Fund – helps to ensure we’re able to run this hugely popular summer activities programme every year. It’s hugely important and without funding we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”