Trawden Forest Community Centre
Trawden Forest Community Centre, based in Lancashire, is a community facility run and managed by volunteers. It provides a community hall for events and meetings, several smaller meeting rooms, a community shop, library, garden and an area where people can meet informally over a coffee.
The building was formerly used as a Surestart centre but was faced with closure in 2014 due to funding cuts.
A community appeal was launched to try and save the building, with over 100 local people turning up to the first meeting to show their support. A committee was elected, a plan of action was drawn up detailing what services were needed in the local area, what funding was available to provide them and how much would be required to keep the building functional.
In return for a peppercorn rent on the building the trustees agreed to take responsibility for all of the running costs associated with the building. The security of a long lease allowed the group to begin planning for the future.
Since then a range of services and facilities have been introduced at the centre including a community shop in November 2018. Following the closure of the last village shop several years ago, the shop provides people with a place to buy locally-produced goods and fresh food. It also provides the organisation with a source of income that supports the core costs of the organisation.
Like most community organisations, Trawden Forest CC has faced significant problems in the wake of Covid 19 at a point where their services are in more demand than ever.
Balancing the need to provide key services to people with the need to minimise the risk of to people in a public setting has been a tough job for the trustees. While some services such as the lending library have been suspended, the community shop has reopened and the community hall and meeting rooms are available for limited numbers of people.
Steve and Bob from the management committee recently took us on a tour of the centre and showed us the additional safeguards that are in place.
Green markers on the floor indicate spacing so that everyone can stay 2 metres apart. When the hall is being used for meetings, chairs are spaced around meeting tables accordingly.
Each room in the centre has a sign on the door that indicates the maximum number of people that the room can accommodate.
Every light switch, power socket, door handle, grab rail and any other point of physical contact is marked with a small yellow arrow sticker to serve as a prompt to cleaners, and a reminder to centre users to regularly wash / sanitise their hands.
The toilets also show how many people may use it at any time, but there are additional signs instructing people where to wait if the facilities are already in use.
At the community shop, visitors are directed to a single entrance and directed around the store by markings on the floor.
Signs at the door indicate that anyone entering must wear a mask and use the hand sanitiser located at the entrance. In addition to the two volunteers that normally run the shop, an additional volunteer is present to greet people and explain the system to visitors. A separate door is used to exit the shop.
In the shop all produce scoops have been removed and replaced with single use scoops that are placed in a bin after use. Hand sanitiser is also available at this point.
As lockdown regulations have begun to tighten again recently, the group has continued to respond to the changing conditions. An outreach service targeted at local people who may be isolated or vulnerable has recently been launched providing an important lifeline for the community.