Leatherhead Community Hub is an umbrella organisation that brings together eight local organisations, who are already active in the North Leatherhead community. Co-locating in a single community hub will help us to achieve far more than we can do on our own.
All Saints Pre-School (formerly St Giles Playgroup) cares for around 50 families in the local area, having re-located to North Leatherhead in 2012. Lucy Townsend, their Chair since 2011, explains what the proposed community hub would mean for them:
"We have become an integral part of the community in North Leatherhead, specialising in being inclusive and caring, with tailored support in place for families who need us. We were graded Outstanding in our last two Ofsted inspections which we were delighted with. Being part the LCH will enable us to do more for families locally. With the extra space, our aim is to extend our provision to offer a play space and family support for 0-2s and their carers."
Born out of B@titude and run by the same dedicated team, The Hive is a creative arts project that was running from the former Children’s Centre prior to lockdown. The Hive, led by Marion Stanway, is now gearing up to welcoming adults to its new home at LCH to enjoy and explore art, colour, sewing, knitting, drawing and more.
Taking time to learn new skills or discover the unique creative gifts in us all builds confidence and self-esteem and can help with loneliness or anxiety. As well as making space available for people to drop in and try new things, The Hive is also planning to run classes in a number of specific skills.
Epsom & Ewell Foodbank runs five distribution centres across East Surrey, including one in North Leatherhead. Since opening in 2012, they have distributed food parcels to nearly 40,000 people across the area. Jonathan Lees, its founder and manager, explains what the community hub will mean for them:
"Our long term goal is to reach a point where no one needs to use a food bank. However, to make that happen, we know we have a lot to do to address poverty in our community. We need to provide support, encouragement and access to many services to those people using the centre. This space will be brilliant, bringing together various community groups and those who want to make a difference, so that people can rebuild, move ahead and have hope for the future."
Mid-Surrey Community Fridges take good, surplus food from supermarkets and food producers and make it available to anyone. Clare Davies, their Chief Executive, shares her vision for the community hub:
“We are already using LCH to distribute about 200 bags of food every week during lockdown to residents of North Leatherhead. When things go back to normal, our food will help to supply the community café, and we are also planning cookery classes and food education. We will be encouraging as much community input as possible.”
Citizens Advice Mole Valley offers free, confidential, impartial advice and support to the people of North Leatherhead, saving them around £300,000 a year in reduced debt payments and increased benefits. Debbie Jones, their Chief Officer, explains how the community hub will make a difference:
"Sadly, the recent Covid-19 crisis has resulted in many, if not all, community-based services being delivered digitally, which is having a serious impact on anyone who has only limited digital or telephone access. A regular drop-in clinic at LCH would ensure that free, high quality, face-to-face advice is available for everyone and that no-one is being left behind in this increasingly digital age."
Since taking over the practice, Dr Hilary Floyd, has become aware of the significant community health challenges in this area, including high rates of teenage pregnancy, obesity, drug dependency, social isolation, and mental health problems.
Traditional GP responses to these issues are often just a 'sticking plaster', as what is really needed is holistic health care that meets people's social and emotional, as well as physical, needs. The Molebridge Practice is, therefore, keen to partner with LCH to offer community services, such as postnatal baby checks, social prescribing, and a well-being café. Dr Anna Barham, one of the GPs is already helping to design a well-being garden at LCH, where people can spend time with nature to benefit their physical and mental wellbeing.