Newton-le-Willows Family and Community Association
Newton-le-Willows Family and Community Association (registered charity 1053999) have successfully been running a busy Community Centre since 1987. With a small team of paid staff, the Centre has since its creation, been managed and staffed by local people, for local people. It is a Community Centre in the true sense of the word. People of all ages, abilities and from all walks of life play an active role within the Centre. The Volunteers involvement promotes personal development, self-esteem and self-confidence.
We have a very diverse programme of activities which includes the following :- memory cafes, computers, Women’s Group, Befriending Service, Sewing Classes, Flower Arranging, Dance Classes, Men’s Group,numerous foreign languages, numerous types of keep fit and alternative therapy classes, various children’s activities to name but a few. Please visit our What’s On page for our full programme of activities and support services.
The Centre was awarded Big Lottery funding from April 2017 with the aims of addressing the following:
- Developing a Befriending Service to reduce isolation
- Introducing well-being services to our portfolio
- Work with young people to improve confidence and self esteem
- Work with all sectors of the Community to increase community engagement
Newton Family and Community Centre is situated in an area of high deprivation and unemployment and the primary aims of the Association are to: –
- Improve the quality of life for the residents of Newton-le-Willows
- Provide services and resources that will support the area and individuals.
- Develop a community spirit & responsibility by encouraging local people to participate in the management & day to day running of the Centre.
- Identify the needs of the area and devise ways in which the Association can respond to those needs.
The Centre is open from 9.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m weekdays and 9:45a.m.- 1:30pm on Saturdays (later if required). The use of the Centre is wide and varied, ranging from pre-school groups to groups that involve elderly people. Between 700 and 1100 people visit the Centre on a weekly basis.
The Association is proud of the fact that, whenever possible, it responds to the needs of the community and works in partnership with various outside agencies to meet these needs. The Centre’s “What’s On” is evidence of this and clearly demonstrates the diversity of activities available. We cater “from the cradle to the grave” e.g. from the Well Baby Clinic – Club 4-2-6; Indoor Bowling .
Access to learning, in a relaxed, non-threatening environment, is available to the local community with the provision of numerous Adult Education courses. We work in partnership with numerous organisations to deliver this provision e.g. St Helens MBC, St. Helens Healthy Living Programme, Workers Educational Association, Halton & St. Helens VCA Etc.
Our provision includes Information Technology, Literacy, Numeracy, Foreign Languages, and numerous recreational courses. This provision promotes Lifelong Learning and enables people to study their chosen subject thus improving their skills and enhancing their career prospects. Wargrave Big Local & Helena Partnerships run a weekly Job Club session for those seeking employment.
Social inclusion encapsulates the philosophy of the Association i.e.: –
Some groups within the Centre, which run under the auspices of the Community Association, have been developed out of the identification of needs within the area. These include an After School Club, Family Fun Time and the Summer Playscheme. and a Knit ‘n’Natter Group. Other groups operating within the Centre are autonomous organisations responsible for their own staffing and procedures.
The Centre is self-funding. The Management Committee is responsible for the upkeep of the building and finding resources to pay members of staff e.g. Senior Administrator, Office Administrator, two part-time cleaners, Centre Administrator, Volunteer Recruitment Co-ordinator/Children’s Activities Planner, Crèche/Children’s Activities Co-ordinator. Everybody else involved in the running of the Centre are volunteers.
The Association is also responsible for the recruitment and training of volunteers to staff the Centre and also for obtaining the necessary funding to run its own groups and to buy the necessary equipment. All volunteers involved in providing these services work to a job description, which is linked to a Volunteers agreement. This agreement, which is a signed document, allows them to work towards gaining a certificate for the number of voluntary hours worked. This can be used to build up peoples Curriculum Vitae and enhance their chances of finding employment.
The people actively involved both in the delivery of services provided by the Management Committee and the Management Committee itself come from all sections of the community including people who are disabled, young, elderly and from different cultures. Our current volunteers range in age from 11years – 89 years.
Last year volunteers willingly gave 5,379 hours of their time freely, based on the Local Authority wage (Scale 1/2 ) for a Leisure Assistant. This equates to approx. £43k at the basic hourly rate for a Council employed Leisure Assistant.
Since 1987 the Centre has become a focal point for the community bringing people into the drop-in coffee bar or the services available. The Management Committee have listened and responded to the needs of the community for further services and opportunities. Amongst other things the Centre has played a significant part in: –
- Maintaining a child health clinic in the area
- Making counselling services available
- Establishing courses specifically for adults with learning disabilities
- Establishing a drop-in for people with mental ill health
- Establishing a support group for women with Post Natal Depression
- Establishing a support group for families of drug users
In 1995 a feasibility study was carried out in relation to extending the building to meet the ever-increasing demand for use. Funding was obtained and an extension of the building was completed in November 1997. This extension is now used to optimum effect and has enabled the Association to continue to respond to the needs of the local community and meet the demands for use. As a result usage of the Centre has increased.
We have received recognition and awards for the service we provide the local community and have been hailed by the Local Authority as a model of good practice both in terms of the opportunities it creates for all members of the community and also from the “best value” perspective. This good practice was also recognised in a study of Family Centres carried out by Oxford University.
In 2001 Lord Falconer also recognised the quality service we provide. He visited the Centre in February that year and stated that the Centre was “a shining example”.
In July 2004 Newton-le-Willows Community Centre was awarded the “Positive Mental Health ” award. The Award was given in recognition of work the Association has undertaken to de-stigmatise mental health and peoples attitudes towards it. We were one of the first organisations in the Borough to receive it, something of which we are very proud of. Rosie Winterton MP recognised the Positive Mental Health Award by choosing to visit our Centre above all others in the North West in September the same year. She was amazed with the work we do, especially with the limited resources we have, both in terms of finances and paid staff.
In 2005 we were awarded the first ever “Active Citizenship Award” presented by St. Helens CVS. This award was for our “outstanding dedication and contribution”
In 2007, we were inspected by Ofsted. We were delighted with the Inspection report. It is very satisfying that the hard work and meticulous planning involved has been recognised and acknowledged. The ethos of the Centre as a whole, the way it is managed and the commitment from volunteers and staff is apparent throughout the report.
In 2010 we were the winners of the St. Helens Community Empowerment Network “Community Impact” Group Award.
The Group Award is given to “a group/organisation that has made a special contribution towards creating a positive change within the local community” .
We were delighted to have received this recognition which shows what can be achieved with the sheer dedication, commitment and team work between volunteers, staff and reciprocal relationships between partner organisations.
Research completed by NCVO relating to the participation of young people in voluntary work concluded that less and less young people are taking an active role within their communities. The fact that there are currently 16 young people who volunteer within the Centre contradicts this research. Young people play an active part in the Newton Family and Community Centre. Indeed many of them have “grown up” in the Centre having accessed the After School Club and Summer Playscheme when they were younger.
In 2014 our Young Volunteers won an award from Helena Partnerships. The award is from the “Making A Difference Awards”, which each year recognises individuals or community groups who have gone the extra mile to improve their neighbourhoods. The category they won was Bright Young Star Award – For people under 25 who are trying to achieve better things.
We don’t know how we could manage without this group of amazing and talented young people. Our team of young volunteers tirelessly, week in week out, come along to volunteer at our 4-2-6 Club. These young people give 2-3 hours every week to Volunteer at our after school club. In the summer they also give at least three weeks of the summer holidays to help in our Playscheme. It’s not only the hours and commitment but the enthusiasm, dedication and skills they bring to our club. .This year they have clocked up in excess of 500 hours between the group this year alone. Each and everyone one of them have some special talent or skill that makes a difference to us and the children who attend Most of the young volunteers have come up in the ranks from attending the Club, to young helper into thriving volunteers.
They are wholly committed to making a difference to the children of the local area through their work here at the Centre. They give so much of their precious free time every year when generally young people are generally given the label as lazy, sulky and stay in bed all day. Our enthusiastic young volunteers are the complete opposite by acting as peer mentors and are a credit to their families, schools but most of all to themselves. Helena Housing Community Engagement officer Graham Ellis had this to say about the award: “Through the Making A Difference Awards we take the time to thank those who continue to make an outstanding contribution in their neighbourhoods. We’ve had more nominations than ever this year and it’s always a pleasure to be part of such a fantastic event.”
In 2015, Newton Community Centre and its students are celebrating receiving three awards. Adult and Community Learning at St Helens Council awarded the Centre “Most Supportive Venue 2014-15” in recognition of the hard work and effort of all the staff who bring learning to the community. In addition Phil Higgins was awarded a certificate for the “Student with journey most travelled.”
The Workers Education Association recognised the hard work of the students who successfully obtained “NFCE Level 2 award Support Work in Schools. ” The award was for credit for the teamwork dedication and commitment they all made to achieve such amazing results. It’s a pat on the back for lots of dedicated students, volunteers and staff.
In November 2016 Newton Community Centre were the winners of the coveted Pride of St Helens award in the Charity Champion category, also staff member Lisa Barnes (Volunteer Recruitment Co-ordinator/Children’s Activities Planner) was a runner up in the Unsung Hero category.
Finally, our constitution states that the aim of Newton-Le-Willows Family & Community Association is “to improve the quality of life for the residents of Newton-Le-Willows by providing a facility for recreational, leisure and educational pursuits”.