Somerset Stories: The Hub at Bridgwater

The Hub at Bridgwater is a charity working in partnership with several organisations. They are a community resource that brings people together, in order to benefit the wider community, through its activities, information, training, signposting, support and networking with the overall aim to improve lives and gain skills, to enjoy new experiences and provide an evolving environment.

We spoke to Centre Manager John Hardy who told us how a £2,500 grant from The Somerset Fund helped to keep them going through the height of the pandemic.

“We support a range of individuals here, alongside hosting many different community groups, too. In recent years a lot of poverty has come to light, especially within families. We’ve seen a lot of people become homeless recently – for a lot of different reasons, of course, but the social challenges that the pandemic presented have certainly not helped. We’ve held a lot of support groups here over the past two years for people who otherwise would have been completely alone. I still do a weekly shop for someone.

We’re also a collection centre and take donations which then get distributed to places such as the foodbank, and the Village Agents will collect things from us too. We never say no to a donation, something can always be recycled or repurposed.

The Somerset Fund grant was put towards a variety of things; we were running a prescription collection service for those who were shielding at the time, and it covered the volunteers’ expenses; it met some of our core costs for the hall; and it went towards a fridge-freezer: another community group were making meals and bringing them to us. We were able to store the food in our new fridge before taking it out on our outreach assignments, or bringing people in to feed them a hot meal.

We’re really grateful to receive this funding from The Somerset Fund, it was crucial at the time, as our normal fundraising had stopped; there were no coffee mornings or bingo evenings due to the Covid restrictions.

We really value the importance of keeping people connected. We’re an information point, a resource centre, a meeting place – a place where you can find useful information. We have our Talking Café every Thursday, and we’ve recently started up a group for women experiencing the menopause. We’re a resource for the community and that’s a really important thing. People need to be able to share their experiences with others and The Hub is central to that.

In the future we want to purchase an empty shop on the high street – it’ll be an investment in the community, so that we’ll have more permanency, as we’re currently on a temporary lease. I’d like our new centre to be a 24-hour, multi-functional place of safety that would include emergency accommodation and community training and office spaces, with an outside working area too.

Our communities are really suffering at the moment, and a small amount of funding goes a long way and can make a big difference for a lot of people.”

02 September 2022


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