Here are the new grills being put up on the Littlecoates Community Centre this week. Our ministry is not just focussed on our three ancient church buildings. There are three areas of particular deprivation within the parish and we have community buildings at the centre of two of them. This Centre is one of them. The Bishop King Learning Centre on the Willows is the other one; it is let to the Grimsby Institute and continued church and community use is part of the deal.
It feels like a long haul seeking to keep the Littlecoates Community Centre open. The local authority used to take this pressure, but it handed it back to the church a few years ago when it withdrew from all Community Centres and ended its Community Development Worker team. Good people in a now defunct Community Association and a now defunct Residents Association have made significant contributions at different stages. A small number of others have frightened off some good users whose rent was a crucial part of the viability. At different points I've tried to give the time needed: early in my time this was by running the tuck shop at the children's discos but most recently it has been setting up meetings with those who might make a difference for the future. Others have put in much more time than me.
Most encouraging is the role of a Management Committee drawn from church and community, the hard work of the people like the one who acts as the Centre’s Coordinator, initiatives like those being taken by the new Tenants and Residents Association, and the support of people like local Ward Councillors who have made a grant for the new grills. St Michael’s continues to support all this, runs a monthly children’s event and a weekly Pop In for the elderly.
Less encouraging is the fact that at present it makes a significant financial loss each week and the fact that recent refurbishment has been spoilt by the vandalism which has required the new grills. For quite a number of years, each time things seem to be about to come right there have been sets backs, but this week it is the grills which are helping us take a step forward.