At a meeting on November 10, trustees of the Number One Community Trust reversed the decision to close their community centre on Rowan Tree Road, next month.
The Number One Community Trust was first set up by three local churches over 30 years ago and has been serving the residents of Showfields and Ramslye since. The trust’s aim is to enhance the quality of life of the residents in the local area through events, activities and projects that promote physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing.
Trustees of the Number One Community Trust told the Times: “We are pleased that in partnership with Emmanuel Church and both councils, we have found a way for the centre and charity to remain open and have been able to safeguard the facilities for the community groups which rely on them.
“Community Centres such as ours are more important than ever – as people are struggling financially and relationally it is vital that people can visit a library, join a club to dance, box or get help with dementia care.
“People need access to a community space they can use for birthday parties and celebrations – all this and more is offered at Number One and we want to keep offering it in the future as it is vital.”
The centre, which also has a hall for hire and a Kent County Council library, holds events throughout the year, including ‘meet your local ward police officers’, free bike repair, as well as YaniFit Classes and Minimambo. There will also be a selection of festive events for people to enjoy in December including a Christmas Fair on December 9 (1.30pm-4.30pm), Christmas Crafts on December 18 (10am-noon), Carol singing on Christmas Eve (4pm) and a Christmas Day Family Service (10am).
However, the trustees did confirm the community café at their site on 1 Rowan Tree Road will be closing on December 22 as it was operating at a loss of over £3,000 each month due to the reduced number of grants and footfall the centre has received, recently. The community of Showfields has already lost its doctors’ surgery (Rowan Tree Surgery) just over three years ago.
Trustees of Number One Community Trust said: “The cafe is a wonderful place – serving good quality food at affordable prices. The fact that it is not sustainable is no reflection on the excellent staff or customers – it is solely a result of the rising costs associated with running a cafe and the loss of grants we used to count on.
“We are going to be exploring if some kind of cafe provision can be relaunched in 2024 – but we need to find a way to do that which is sustainable in the harsher economic climate we face.”
Celebrity chef and Number One Community Trust ambassador, Rosemary Shrager added that she is ‘thankful’ that the community centre is being saved but hopes that there is still a chance to keep the community café open, even if ‘temporarily’ across the colder months.
“The centre has been going for over 30 years and to think that it wouldn’t be able to continue would be terrible,” she exclusively told the Times. It is incredibly important for all the local people; it ensures children get fed, it’s a way of getting food to the local parents and it also is a warm place where people can go. So, it’s much needed in the community, especially at this time of year.”