A place for friends
We’re helping St. Catherine’s to offer a warm welcome to people young and old
The parish of Tilehurst St. Catherine has a large proportion of elderly people, and research carried out by St. Catherine’s church has shown that this age group is not being catered for by the community. A number of day centres have closed, and St. Catherine’s has been working to fill the gap with its community groups.
Friday Friends is an informal gathering that offers elderly people the chance to come and chat, while a weekly lunch club has also proved popular. After a recent Allchurches Trust visit, Grants Officer Jeremy Noles said “Adults with learning disabilities have been helping at the lunch club, making this a great meeting point for people from different sections of the community”.
If anything, the church is becoming a victim of its own success, as the church hall is often booked, which makes the toilets inaccessible for other groups. The heating is also difficult to control and inadequate in colder weather. St. Catherine’s now urgently needs to make its facilities more appropriate to the groups using the church.
The centre of the neighbourhood
“Work is already nearing completion on this imaginative project,” explains Jeremy. St. Catherine’s is creating a ‘multi-purpose Neighbourhood Centre’ with a multi-use space, a new kitchen and extra toilets, along with new central heating.
With all the improvements, St. Catherine’s will be able to hold its popular lunch sessions twice a week and offer a drop-in café. It will open its doors to people with learning disabilities to volunteer in hospitality and catering and gain useful skills. Other community groups that currently use the centre will be able to expand too.
In an area where older people and people with learning disabilities can feel isolated, this is a beacon of hope that is bringing people together. Figures show that the number of people aged over 65 in the area will increase dramatically in the next few years, and we are very pleased to be supporting St. Catherine’s in the next step on their journey to create a welcoming and inclusive community centre.