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).