Most deprived area in England gets new Day Centre and Community Hub
Trinity Methodist Church
Pier Avenue, Clacton-on-Sea
Like many seaside towns in the south east, Clacton now includes pockets of significant poverty and social deprivation, with those in need often being exported from London Boroughs into bed and breakfast accommodation. With a long- standing presence in the town, Trinity Methodist Church has responded by running several projects providing support to those in need, and by using their buildings to host other partner projects and organisations. Much of this work centres around helping the homeless, the hungry and those in despair.
The purpose of the project was to adapt the building to enable the church to better serve those needs, specifically:
- Providing more support and provision for homeless and vulnerable people;
- Providing opportunities for skills training, development and work experience, with specialist support for people with mental health issues;
- Providing an open and welcoming community space for people to gather and socialise – especially for families with young children.
Catering within a single building for such a range of users – from children to those with complex needs, often including drug and alcolhol addiction – requires the careful zoning of activities and facilities. With a complex brief, and the need to maintain provision of services (in all senses), the project was phased. Phase 1 focused on the refurbishment of the eastern half of the building including the main worship space; underfloor heating was installed, windows replaced and the space reordered, enabling the children’s work to be relocated here from the hall. Between the worship space and the hall two ancillary rooms, together with WCs, storage and circulation spaces, were renewed, a new kitchen created, and all areas repaired and redecorated.
Phase 2 comprised the refurbishment of the remaining western half of the building. The main hall was divided to create a new welcome area for the Pier Avenue entrance, with the addition of a new utility room with shower, new unisex and disabled WCs, a nurse’s office with a day bed and a new administration office; the remainder of the hall was refurbished and equipped for the provision of meals and for other activities, including skills training offered free in partnership with the Workers’ Educational Association charity. The existing main kitchen was enlarged and refitted to full commercial catering standard, and currently serves 20–40 guests a day a cooked breakfast and nutritious lunch. The church also offers toiletries, clothes washing facilities and replacement clothing when needed.
It has been an utter privilege to have walked alongside this church community and help them complete this project. This is a church community that is using its building to walk the talk of Matthew 25, when the Son of Man, at the judgement of the the nations, tells those at his right hand ‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me…’ (vv. 35–36).