BBC to turn spotlight on incredible work of Gloucestershire charity

Residents who use a much-loved community centre in Gloucestershire could be about to become the stars of BBC Radio.

A producer from the county wing of the national broadcaster is due to set up a temporary studio at the GL11 Community Hub, hoping to tell some of the amazing stories from centre users.

Chris Sandys (correct), a community producer at BBC radio Gloucestershire, is the man behind the near two-week stint at the charity, beginning on January 27.

“We plan to be there for two weeks. It is a really good place. It has a unique community offering and spirit. It is all part of our plan to get out and support and get involved in what is happening in Gloucestershire,” said Mr Sandys.

A note from a departing community police officer to the GL11 Community Hub points at just part of the reason the work of the charity is so vital and the wider impact it has on the quality of life of scores of residents.

From groups supporting those affected by bereavement or cancer to teaching English, maths, skills to help people find work and IT literacy or Family Friday, yoga classes, special needs and music groups – GL11 is thriving.

Its impact has not just been on people’s life chances, sense of belonging, mental health and wellbeing, but on creating genuine opportunities and communities, giving direction and hope.

“It has been a pure pleasure to meet you and your team and see the amazing support you offer. I dread to think where the community and our own service would be if you did not exist,” said the note from the aforementioned departing police officer.

What the outgoing police officer alluded to is the positive impact of the work done on all ages and how that has made the lives of everyone in the community, including those like the police who might otherwise be even busier, all the better.

“There is a lot of cross fertilisation. If he (the officer) has people he is concerned about, he will ask us to explore support for them, and check to make sure they are okay and what we can do to help,” said Indigo Redfern, chief executive at the community centre.

Which is all a long way from its creation in 2001 after transitioning from a children’s home to family centre before facing closure – only to be rescued by a group of local mums – and shows just how in-demand and sophisticated the service now is.

At its centre, the place to which everyone gravitates, is the GL11 café.

“A grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s fund makes the café possible. Total running cost is about £25,000 a year. The police commissioner gives us about £10,000 and we make about £15,000 to keep everything going,” said Ms Redfern.

“It is a really important centre. It is the heart of the hub. People can pop in and use it and just hang out, they might go there after they have done a course and it is where the important social bit that brings people together happens.”

To find out more about the GL11 Community Hub visit gl11.org.uk. The BBC would also like to hear from other groups for possible future broadcasts (chris.sandys@bbc.co.uk).

GL11 Community Hub bags a share of Tesco’s bag fund!

Local people are benefiting from a warmer, more inviting work space thanks to funding from Tesco Bags of Help.

GL11 was one of three groups shortlisted to receive the cash award from Tesco’s Bags of Help fund where shoppers were invited to head along to Tesco stores in Cam and Wotton to vote for who they thought should take away the top grant. Voting took place at Tesco stores in Cam and Wotton over the two months of January and February with GL11 receiving considerable support for it’s project.

“We would like to say a big thank you to everyone that voted for GL11 Community Hub with their blue tokens in Tesco stores Bags of Help scheme” comments Indigo Redfern, CEO at GL11, “We are thrilled to be receiving the money we were hoping for. It was wonderful to have Antony Giuliano, Community Champion for Tesco, Cam, visit GL11 this week to present us with a cheque for £3,000. The money will make such a difference to the Men’s Shed project that runs here at the Hub every Monday 1-3pm. The session is free of charge and we welcome anyone who would might like to drop in and join us”.

Antony Giuliano, Community Champion at Tesco presenting the cheque to Colin Wright, Men’s Shed Volunteer.

The funds from Tesco will be used to make improvements to the shed, providing a place for a variety of members of the community to get together to make and mend, invent and create, meet, talk and share with each other. Due to significant demand, the shed needed to be upgraded so that projects and courses could continue to be offered and the space utilised more effectively. By improving the shed, GL11 will be able to offer more activities, especially in the colder months of the year.

Men’s groups

Two new groups aimed at men will start at GL11 Community Hub this month – Men’s Shed and Domino Club.

Men’s Shed is similar to a garden shed – a place to pursue practical interests at leisure, to practice skills and enjoy making and mending. The difference is that garden sheds and their activities are often solitary in nature while Men’s Sheds are the opposite. They’re about social connections and friendship building, sharing skills and knowledge, and of course a lot of laughter.

GL11 community Shed will be a place where men can come and learn new skills and share their own skills in a friendly, social setting. Initially there will be a focus on woodwork, but this will diversify according to what the shed members want to do. Members can work on individual projects or on group or community projects.

GL11 future plans include extending to Women’s Shed and Family Shed, offering the chance for even more people to get involved.

Domino Club will be an opportunity for some friendly competition with a selection of ever favourite traditional board games including dominos, shove ha’penny, bar skittles, backgammon and Scrabble.

Liane James, GL11 Wellbeing Delivery Manager comments:
“Men are telling us that there aren’t enough opportunities for them to socialize and do activities that are of particular interest to them. These new groups offer that for residents of the GL11 area. They are free of charge – under GL11’s Your Way to Wellness Project which is funded by The Community Fund.”

Men’s Shed will run every Monday, 1-3pm starting Monday 29th April. Domino Club will take place on Wednesdays 10am-12 noon starting Wednesday 8th May.

GL11 Voices Choir bring joy to Coaley Church

GL11 Voices entertained the audience in Coaley Church at the last of the Spring series of Music & Cake. Starting with A Nigerian Welcome Song the group took us on a journey to Scotland with Wild Mountain Thyme, North America with the spiritual Wade in the Water and fittingly on St Patrick’s Day to Ireland with When Irish Eyes are smiling, Molly Malone and an Irish Blessing. In between we were treated to, amongst others, Abba’s Super Trouper and Phyllis Dillon’s Don’t Stay Away.

Ably directed by Pauline Thomas, the group sang enthusiastically, despite being only half their usual number. They sing for fun every Monday afternoon and that love of singing certainly came through, with audience participation in more than piece.

What wonderful talent we have locally!