Westfield United Reformed Church in Bridgwater was awarded a £226,400 grant from the HPC Community Fund in 2018 across 3 years, to upgrade premises for community use at both Westfield United Reformed Church and Cannington United Reformed Church, alongside appointing a church-related community worker for community and outreach work in the area.
We spoke to Jacky Bartholomew who, on behalf of the two churches, told us about the work they do, and how they spent the money from the HPC Community Fund.
“We aim to improve health and wellbeing, reduce marginalisation and isolation, and facilitate empowerment by the community to be active in community solutions. We hold regular events for the community, including toddler and baby groups, youth drop-ins, weekly coffee mornings and lunch clubs, and a drop-in for rough sleepers and the homeless – where there is food and drink, a shower, a washing machine, alongside support from the staff from Arc (formerly Taunton Association for the Homeless).
During the first part of 2020, our completed buildings, which were partly funded by the HPC Community Fund grant, remained largely unused, due to the first lockdown. However, our Westfield Street Cafe kept a hatch service going for key workers and the elderly and vulnerable, and we were busier than ever. Once we were able to, the cafe re-opened and we continued to deliver meals to the isolated and elderly in the community. Our partnership working with village agents, FareShare and Bridgwater Food Bank and other voluntary agencies increased, and we continue to offer ongoing daily support for those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness and also those in need of food.
We’re delighted that our new rooms are now being increasingly utilised. For example, Blossom in Somerset, a disability service, now use our new hall three days a week for adults with special needs, our toddlers and choir groups have now returned to meeting in person – and from the start of the pandemic until May 2021 we recorded over 6,000 acts of kindness and/or support.”
The HPC Community Fund, managed by Somerset Community Foundation, supports many groups and organisations’ projects to increase opportunity and improve the quality of life and wellbeing in communities most affected by the construction of Hinkley Point C, reaching smaller ‘grassroots’ charities as well as larger organisations.
Photo caption: WestCan’s meals for the isolated