Community centres are important hubs across the country that give people an opportunity to socialise, learn and access key services.
Some argue that these centres aren’t seen as desirable places to spend time – but they serve a vital function in communities across the country. De-stigmatising community centres and promoting the incredible work they do to bring people together will help invigorate and refresh the sector. The more people who use, contribute to and donate money towards community centres, the more people can be helped.
Now more than ever, we’re living in challenging times that require us all to pull together and offer help. Here are just 10 reasons why community centres are vital hubs, providing a much-needed service for individuals across the country…
1. Unites a community
This one’s obvious, but perhaps the most important.
The clue is in the name – community centres are all about providing a place for the community to connect and socialise. They’re multi-purpose hubs that offer different things for different people.
Whether the community centre is religious in nature or has been created to provide support to a specific section of the community, it undoubtedly connects people from all walks of life. Community centres demonstrate how wonderfully we can all work together. Race, age, gender, class, education and other protected characteristics should not be noticed in a community centre. People are valued for their own individuality and socialise together no matter what.
Community centres also offer family and friends the chance to really connect with one another and take part in an activity together. If a family unit rarely spends quality time together, then attending a weekly class could be perfect. As a bonus it’s also a great way to meet other families within the community.
2. Provides volunteer opportunities
There are many reasons why people volunteer. Some want the opportunity to give back and do great things (kindness is good for our health, after all). Others require a break from day-to-day life and find solace in volunteering. There’s always new people to meet, new skills to learn and activities to take part in. It gives people a chance to build their confidence and feel part of a team.
Of course, one of the main reasons people volunteer is to build their skill sets and employability. Community centres offer individuals a great opportunity to enhance their CV and gain vital knowledge they need to take with them into the world of work.
3. Support for community projects
Community centres bring people together to work on wider community projects, such as organising clean-ups or working on improving a gardening space.
It’s not all about what goes on within four walls. Community centres outreach to the wider community and work to improve the town, city and overall local environment for everyone.
4. Combating loneliness
Community centres provide a vital place to visit for older members of the community, or people who feel isolated from those around them. Studies show almost a fifth of the population feel lonely always or often. Having a place to visit regularly is vital for many people. It provides routine, something to look forward to and new opportunities.
Some centres fundraise for trips and excursions for their members. This offers another opportunity for people to see new places and make friends no matter their age or background.
5. Positively impacts the lives of younger people
Youths must have a safe space to visit and take part in new activities. Community centres provide classes and events such as physical, creative or social activities. This programme offers countless opportunities for young people to make friends and learn new skills. Giving the younger generation a healthy outlet for their energy will prevent anti-social behaviour and nurture the individual’s most positive attributes instead.
6. Promotes healthy living
Many community centres offer physical activities. Walking clubs and fitness classes tailored to various age groups provides the whole community with a reason to get out and get healthy.
Prioritising physical fitness is key, but not everyone wants to join a gym or go to a demanding sports class. Community centres put socialising at the heart of everything it does – making fitness fun. Some centres are even promoting nutritional health by offering cooking classes!
7. Encourages creativity and culture
Arts and crafts classes and other cultural activities are key to encouraging new members of the community to get involved. The more opportunities, the more people who come along.
Community centres develop a culture of wellbeing across social, mental and physical health. This will improve the overall health of the community, taking pressure off social services and other facilities.
8. Shares valuable information
If an individual wants to know ‘what’s on’, they’d turn to their local community centre for information. They provide valuable information on events, programmes and other activities going on in the community. From local am-dram productions to community galas, you can bet all you need to know can be found from your local community centre or village hall.
Guides, brochures, flyers, newsletters – you name it, your community centre will have it. Stay connected with what’s going on in your town or city.
You can also find wider resources from your local community centre. The volunteers and staff will be able to signpost individuals to helpful websites or facilities, such as mental health organisations or government advice.
9. Offers educational opportunities
Many community centres still offer basic adult education opportunities, as well as developmental opportunities (such as dance classes or crafts). A safe space to learn a new skill and further an individual’s education is a fantastic resource.
Often centres host nursery or preschools, too. This allows the building to be put to great use during the day, ready for evening classes and activities.
This perfectly demonstrates the impact community centres have on every life stage of the community, from nurseries right through to adult education and activities for the elderly.
10. Provides unique and much-needed facilities
Individuals often find hiring facilities prohibitively costly. People are able to organise social and family events by hiring out community centre spaces. Other voluntary groups and organisations are also able to hire out space on a more regular, consistent basis. This service is invaluable for people who want to organise social activities and need a base in which to do this. Yet again, community centres prove invaluable.
So how can you support your community centre? Centres are always grateful for any donations or expertise you can offer. Why not check out the programme of events and activities going on at your local community centre and head along to meet new members of your community?
If you are the owner or manager of a community centre, it’s important to continue to promote your services and share news of the great work you do. Follow us on Twitter and let us know more about your centre.