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Bentswood Community Hub

Clarion

Residents of Bentswood and the wider Haywards Heath community are enjoying an extended programme at the Community Hub, thanks to Clarion Futures funding.

The funding enabled Sussex Clubs for Young People (SCYP) to take over the lease on the former Community Café, which had been used for various classes and activities over the years.

Run as a partnership between Clarion Futures, SYCP and Bentswood Community Partnership, the team have transformed the space, offering a wide and varied programme to local residents of all ages. The hub is managed by SCYP Development Officer, Anna, and a team of volunteers.

Communities Officer, Dawn, describes it as, “a very supportive environment, we’ve tried to incorporate everything that Clarion Futures can offer. It’s a real holistic approach.”

The programme is run by our specialist teams and partner organisation, and includes:

  • Jobs & Training sessions
  • Weekly drop-in for DWP and Citizens Advice 
  • Digital champions project – where volunteers help others with getting online
  • Wellbeing sessions, ranging from mental health workshops, to men’s groups and Hope parenting 
  • A breakfast club for kids on Saturday morning 
  • A café on Tuesday, offering barista training for budding coffee makers
  • Friday night youth clubs.

In addition to the activities inside, they’ve recently completed an exterior project, doubling the size of the garden to provide a large patio and astro-turfed area, so it’s a low maintenance, all weather space for outdoor activities. A Sensory Allotment is also being planned to provide a calm area, and intergenerational planting opportunities.

The Hub also provides for everyday needs, with the recent addition of a purpose built extension to house the Community Larder. The larder is supported by UK Harvest, and stocked with supplies gathered from local supermarkets by volunteers, and local residents – as there is a real culture of ‘take when you need, give when you can’.

The larder started in lockdown, which meant that the hub could remain open, providing a real lifeline for local people during the pandemic.

Anna said: “When there was nothing else around, we were still open for the community and dependable to provide support and signpost to additional services.”

The Bentswood Hub has firmly established itself at the heart of the community, which she explains as: “The Hub is accessible, we have an open door policy, and everyone is welcome. A real friendly, inviting atmosphere, because we have so many activities on, residents know whatever their need, there’ll be someone who can help or know where to access information.”

And local Councillor and Chairperson of Bentswood Community Partnership, Stephen Hillier, agrees: “The Hub has taken our sense of community onto a new level. It has become a safe space for residents to seek support, a generator of community volunteers and Clarion Futures have been fantastic and generous partners in this innovation.”

New volunteers are always welcome.

This article was featured in Your Clarion, our residents' Magazine. Click here to read the latest issue from your region.