Strengthening ties

04 October 2018

Volunteers play an important role for Merstham Community Facility Trust. Without them it would be impossible to run the activities based at the hub and out in the local community, which are organised through the Local Conversation in Merstham.  

The project aims to bring people together, strengthen the community, increase skills and ultimately help people to feel happier and healthier.

Through the project and a deep engagement process, residents decided on priorities they wanted to address. The four areas of work identified by residents were the need to maintain and make local green spaces more usable, to create more activities for local people, to create a stronger voice for Merstham through a campaigning group, and to develop a digital community.

More than 600 local people have been involved with the project, attending local events, getting involved with activities and campaigning on issues that are important to them.

The project is led by local volunteers who take part in all aspects in the project. Brian and Amy are just two of many volunteers who have been involved with the Local Conversation in Merstham since 2017.

Now retired, Brian was drawn to the hub in October 2017. He commits to volunteering for 16 hours a week but Brian will show up beyond these hours and busies himself with anything that needs doing.

With his impressive know-how, he’s involved with numerous projects including the Computer/IT drop-in sessions as an IT buddy, the Repair Cafe, the allotment and if anything needs building he’s the man!

In the Repair Cafe, Brian has racked up numerous successes fixing equipment that might otherwise be destined for the dump. One particular challenge was a 1937 Singer sewing machine with a 1960s electrical conversion on it. Once he’d fixed the wiring, Joy the resident seamstress taught the owner how to use it.

Every day Brian gets to face new challenges or meet new people at the hub. If he can help, he will, and gets a lot out of the experience.

For Amy, volunteering is a way to make a positive contribution to her community. She’s a long-term volunteer and was based at the original premises on Portland Drive before Merstham Community Facility Trust found its new home at the hub.

Amy is office based but her role is varied. She uses IT skills to tackle administrative tasks, including taking bookings and writing invoices.

Socialising is also part of Amy’s role. She loves getting to know the people who use the hub from the Merstham community and beyond.

The hub is a home from home for Amy and other members of her family who are also volunteers.

Having lived most of her life in Merstham she feels very positive about the organisation and the future for Merstham residents.

She said: “I think it’s about getting the community together, working together to make it a better place for everybody….I see it really expanding, getting more people involved, more services available, making it blossom.”

The Local Conversation in Merstham is funded by People’s Health Trust with money raised by Health Lottery in the South East.

 

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