Mill Hill Community Lounge officially opens
Published by Rob Ghosh for Hanover Housing Group in Housing and also in Communities, Environment, Health
Hanover residents from Mill Hill Close and Barnard Gate,Haywards Heath were celebrating today as a new purpose built community loung was officially opened by Cllr Sandy Ellis, Mayor of Haywards Heath.
The new lounge called the Mill House is all thanks to Hanover resident Cathy Shirley who together with members Mill Hill Close Residents Association raised an impressive £18K to build and retrofit the new building.
The story begins in 2013,after being elected as resident Rep Cathy felt that some residents at Mill Hill Close had become isolated because of age,illness and disability. To help combat these issues,she started holding regular coffee mornings and other events in her flat. She soon realied that her flat was too small for such events. After consulting with the local branch of Age Uk,she discovered that there was a lack of community space generally for older people in Haywards Heath.
Cathy came up with the idea of a communal room that could be used by residents and non-residents. After some brainstorming,with other residents she chose the drying area outside the estates laundry room as the perfect spot since it was rarely used and needed resurfacing.
She encouraged Hanover to take down the fencing and create a good foundation for the new building. The next step was to choose an appropriate building and ,after a few weeks of research,Kathy and the residents agreed that they needed a garden room to be constructed.
In order to construct the new building Cathy asked a garden space designer to draw up some outline plans for the new building. With some support from local Councillor Jonathan Edwards Cathy sucessfully navigated her way through a stringent planning application processs before planning permission was achieved.
Cathy and the residents association then embarked on a year long campaign to raise money for the new building. In addition to some generous local donations funding activity included a Big Lottery grant of £7.5K, a £5K grant from Haywards Heath Town Council and a £2.5K grant from West Sussex County Council.
Cathy's tenacity raised a total of £18K. The building, is fully insulated and is maintenance free for 30 years. It comes complete with lighting,plug sockets and lounge furniture.
Cllr Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Councillor for Heath Ward,said: " This is a fantastic project which will be a huge boost to residents in the area. Cathy's passion and drive has been clear to see and over a few months she led a fantastic fundraising effort and convinced local Councils to support the project with substancial grants."
Since the building was constructed it has become a real hub for the community.It is currently being used for: Residents meetings,coffee mornings,crafting and card making. Cathy is also currently in discussions with Age Uk to run sessions and workshops for non residents living in the local area.
Donna Parker Redwood Centre Manager Age Uk West Sussex: "What Cathy has done by raising £18K to build a community building is an amazing achievement,having had a lot of experience trying to raise funds I know how difficult it is especially in the current economic climate."
"I look forward to working with Cathy to help enrich the futures of the older members of our community."