St Augustine’s Centre, based on Hanson Lane, is a community centre for anyone who needs help, advice or support.
Based on the Christian faith which respects and values individuals, the centre welcomes the vulnerable and cares for all, regardless of faith, ethnicity, background or any other factors.
The building offers a warm and welcoming environment for people to access support and advice from friendly workers and volunteers. They aim to help with basic needs and hope to build confidence to encourage participation within the community and to prevent isolation.
There is a packed programme of activities including
- Weekly Support Groups offering befriending, food, information and direction towards other agencies
- Adult Education, both on an informal and formal basis, to share skills and to learn new ones
- Social Activities within the local community which aim to develop better relationships between the host community and those who have moved here from other countries
- Advice Sessions, covering such areas as education, employment, adapting to the UK culture, citizenship and immigration. Basic legal advice is offered by OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) registered workers
- Opportunities for people who have become destitute to access food and funds
These activities offer people a chance to have their voices heard, share stories, gain new friends and knowledge of our society, which enables people to improve their lives and reduce the barriers that can cause poverty and isolation.
The people who come to St. Augustine’s Centre are at the heart of the work. It is a huge blessing to be able to draw alongside people from a diverse background, and the staff and volunteer team learn something new every day from the service users. They come together to share meals and stories, to work together growing and cooking food, learning English, developing skills, supporting each other and becoming friends. In short, they come together to build a community, and know that they are welcome.
There is also a thriving nursery onsite, welcoming 50 children a week. They offer a stimulating and caring environment with qualified staff whose aim is to treat children as individuals, supporting their development and educational needs through play in a safe and friendly context.
In the words of the service users:
Who are the ‘we’ who meet together at St. Augustine’s? We are:
- Local children (under 5) who come with our parents to the Nursery every day with our staff.
- We are Hutu and Tutsi from Africa who eat side by side with Iranians, Zimbabweans, people from Sri Lanka and China.
- We are volunteers; people with learning difficulties, poor mental health, the young, the retired who all have something to offer. Stories are told as the garden is dug, the food is cooked and eaten and the fashion show is planned.
- There is laughter, sadness, celebration and struggle. Those who come here are changed: we have found somewhere to live, learnt a new recipe, shared friends, given and received.
If you would like to visit St Augustine’s, offer support, volunteer, or just want to find out more, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.