Twenty Years Have Flown By - The Full Article!
The results were overwhelming. The fear and reality of poverty, the lack of education and opportunities for their children and the uncertainty about their futures led local people to set up a charity and a company limited by guarantee, dedicated to the relief of poverty, furtherance of education and the pursuit of racial harmony.
Armed with the knowledge about people fears for the future the Community Trust exercised the Right to Manage and took over the management of 1500 social housing homes on the Stockwell/Brixton borders. Reopening the closed Community Centre and the necessity to lever in millions of pounds for the improvement of local homes, drove the Trust to orchestrate the birth of Community Trust Housing, a housing association led by local people to oversee the regeneration of the area and the building of new homes.
The Community Trust settled down to work from the Community Centre to deliver services to local people with the aims of the charity firmly set in their sights…
The Trust’s doors are open from 10:00am – 10:00pm seven days a week. The individuals may change but their needs remain the same. Uncertainty, loneliness, fear and a time in their lives when they need support brings people through those doors.
The Trust has always looked for solutions to our local problems from amongst our own community and for years we engaged with those most at risk in the area: the young people who were responsible for high crime levels, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour. These were some of the most difficult years as the Trust had to gain the trust of the local youngsters and also deal honestly and openly with the problems they brought to the area. Trustees worked hard to bridge the generation divide and by working together they managed to deliver the first free internet café of its kind anywhere in the UK to our knowledge – making sure that local youngsters had a head start in the new digital world.
The Community Centre itself aged as its clients grew up into productive and responsible young adults and currently, on a wet day, the umbrellas need to be put up as the roof leaks! Community Trust Housing has promised a £1 million investment into the bricks and mortar and we are currently at the design stage hoping that we will see the first workers on-site this year… mending equipment at the ready!
Our years of being based in the community has led us to develop links with our local authority (Lambeth), the Metropolitan Police and many other statutory and voluntary organisations in the area. We have been fortunate enough to be funded through the “Dispossessed Fund” (Evening Standard), Comic Relief, the Job Centre, the Walcot Foundation, the Big Lottery and most of all, our major funder: Community Trust Housing.
The commitment that the Trust has to an extended and refurbished community centre keeps us positive as we face some of the toughest times for years. Our trustees are largely from the local area and some are facing the same problems as our clients. This understanding has led them to plan for the future knowing that it might be very different from the “today”. Recognising the need to have partners who bring different skills to the table, the Trust was fortunate enough to be accepted by Pilot Light who have helped us to focus on our core offer whilst leaving room for flexibility in the future. We are very grateful for the patience they displayed, whilst we struggled to find the words to describe why we did what we did… and why we do what we do!