WHERE WE STARTED
Initial ideas were for a relatively conventional community centre providing space for local voluntary sector groups and organisations; through conversation and engagement with others this evolved into the idea of a centre with those traditionally on the margins at its heart, a place where all are given the opportunity to live life in all its fullness, where unexpected relationships can develop and flourish.
Although Newport Pagnell does not figure highly in indices of deprivation tables, there are nonetheless significant challenges facing its people and it is their issues and the issues faced by others in the wider community that the Mead Centre will hoped to address:
· The sense of loneliness and isolation experienced by many people from children and young people to the frail elderly
· The lack of opportunities for children and young people with complex needs and for children with life limiting conditions
· The needs of disengaged young people and those struggling with the stresses in their lives including concerns about gender and sexuality and the use of self-harm
· Opportunities for a dementia hub to complement the town’s strategy for Newport Pagnell to be a dementia-friendly town
· The need for support networks and activities meeting the particular circumstances of foster carers
· The lack of existing support networks for men concerned about their mental health and the substantial risk of suicide in men under 50
· A lack of office and meeting space for individuals interested in developing their own social businesses
· Opportunities to challenge food poverty, particularly amongst children, and address food waste in partnership with local businesses
Those involved in developing the Mead Centre are very aware that there are organisations actively engaged in providing activities and resources to meet the needs of a wide range of local people including the Brooklands centre for those who are retired and the Youth Club for young people; it is not our intention to try to duplicate or replicate these services but to try to fill in some of the gaps and develop activities and resources for those people who are not currently served or supported. Initial conversations with groups and individuals would suggest there is ample scope for the development of a full range of activities and resources in addition to the organisations committed to returning once the new centre has been opened; the challenge may be to accommodate all those wishing to use the building whilst retaining a bias towards those who are ‘on the edge’
Our vision statement declared that the Mead Centre should be a unique space at the centre of Newport Pagnell that has been created by the United Reformed Church in partnership with the wider community.