Bridgwater Town Council are excited to announce that the Recreation Community Hub on Rhode Lane, Hamp is now open. The building was acquired last year by the council with the aim of regeneration and reopening to offer the local residents a community space once again. Over the last seven months the old YMCA building, which sits on the junction of Rhode Lane and King George Avenue, has undergone an extensive refurbishment and has been kitted out with a brand new kitchen, modern furnishings and a lick of paint. ReCreation was at the heart of Hamp’s community activity for many years but due to challenges presented during the Covid lockdowns the building was sadly closed and fell into disrepair. Bridgwater Town Council were presented with the opportunity to take the building on in January 2023 and after a year of public consultation and major refurbishment they are now ready to open the doors and invite the community in.
Community Development Officer Ann-Marie Gould says “We are so excited to be opening the Recreation Community Hub at the beginning of this new year. We have lots of plans on how we can use this building to bring the community together and have already made the Rec the new home of the South Bridgwater Local Pantry. Going forward we plan to offer a range of community groups and sessions including a youth club, exercise classes and other services to support the diverse local community. I am thrilled to say our first group session is beginning on Tuesday the 24th January in which we will be working with The Bridgwater United Community Trust to bring the state of the Art STEM Sphere programme to 5 -15 year old Hamp residents. (more info here – https://www.bridgwaterunitedfc.com/stem-initiative-launch/ ) ‘
Over the coming months The Recreation Community Hub will be offering a weekly Youth Club, a children’s drama group with Somerset Youth Theatre, an Over 60s club and a mother and toddler group. The Town Council are welcoming any enquiries from local community groups who would like to use the facilities and are also offering the building space for private hire.
Important for Hamp
Cllr Brian Smedley, leader of the Town Council and County Councillor for Bridgwater South (which includes Hamp) says. “This is a very important development for Hamp and it’s another example of Bridgwater Town Council stepping in to save community services and assets during this financial crisis. The people have always said a Community Centre is crucial to them. With the disappearance of Sedgemoor it is now down to Town Council to prioritise and take forward the things that matter to the people. Without a doubt Hamp estate needs that priority of thought and action. We will be doing a similar thing on Parkway with the Rollercoaster and at the same time continue our support for existing community centres such as Victoria, where a new pantry is opening up, and also in Sydenham. Bridgwater Town Council of all the authorities is the closest to our communities and therefore it is crucial that what the people of Hamp want is what their council advocates for.”
The South Bridgwater Pantry will operate out of Recreation and the Chair will be Cllr Kathy Pearce who is also a councillor for South Bridgwater, Deputy Town Council Leader and was brought up on Hamp attending Blake School. Kathy says “The Pantry is already operating out of ReCreation and is helping to avoid food going to waste, by redistributing regular donations by Morrisons. Plus, the Pantry is a member of Fareshare, which redistributes fruit and veg, which is still good quality but would otherwise go to waste. For a weekly fee of £3.50, members are able to choose food to the value of about £9.”
HCA Secretary Cllr Leigh Redman said ““The community has been asking for some time that Recreation be opened again and looks forward to working alongside BTC to bring forward a program of events that will reach every corner of Hamp old and young. Our young people deserve something dedicated to them that will help build community cohesion. We must support our young people, we hope that our older members will be able to use the centre too, we know that Hamp has been looking forward to Recreation being open again” whilst fellow Hamp Town Councillor Liz Leavy added “The Hamp Community Association welcomes the reopening of the ReCreation Community Hub and is very much looking forward to working with the Town Council for the benefit of the local community. Activities have been limited in recent years mainly due to lack of a community space and the effects of lockdown. We did however still manage to run two successful coach trips to Torquay in August and another to the Exeter Christmas market in December. We were also able to give some financial support to local organisations.The Hamp Community Association meets at 7 pm on the first Wednesday of every month at ReCreation. Any resident in Hamp is welcome to attend and help shape the programme for the future.”
If you are interested in learning more about the activities at the Rec you can follow us on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ReCreationHubHamp
For more info on The South Bridgwater Local Pantry please join the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/543931893444591
For enquiries on hire for community groups and private functions please call Bridgwater Town Council on 01278 427692 and speak to Ann-Marie.