Tell us about your organisation, how you started and what you do?
Gloucester Street Community Centre (GSCC) is a non-profit voluntary organisation which was founded by Gloucester Street Church in 1987. It is in the heart of one of the most diverse and deprived neighbourhoods of Wolverhampton. Our mission is that all residents living in the Wolverhampton ward of St. Peters enjoy a high quality of life, including meeting economic, social, and educational goals, as part of a strong, prosperous, and caring community, while addressing social welfare, poverty, crime, and unemployment.
GSCC caters for all ages, providing a range of services such as, OFSTED registered Childcare (Breakfast and After School Clubs, play schemes), youth engagement, over 50’s club, Training and Development, Job Club, Education, Volunteering, Community Outreach and room hire facilities. We also offer specialist support services, including advice and guidance, mentoring, mental health support, counselling, coaching and projects that support the long-term unemployed.
In September, post lockdown, we opened the Digital Online Centre by securing a European Social Fund and West Midlands Police bid. At the same time, we were successful in our application to become a Trusted Partner with Digital Wolves. BBO Bridges continued throughout lockdown (reduced service) and the Senior Citizens club was also back up and running.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Our greatest achievement has been to serve the local and wider community of Wolverhampton by providing a diverse range of services to engage and support some of the most disadvantaged people in the City. There are so many projects we could list as we provide services for children up to senior citizens. The greatest achievement has been to build an outstanding Community Centre in the heart of Whitmore Reans to meet the needs of local people.
What is your experience of support received from WVCA?
Wolverhampton Voluntary & Community Action is the first port of call for advice, guidance and support for community and voluntary organisations. As we lack the capacity to attend all the meetings relating to funding opportunities, projects and local initiatives, their fortnightly newsletter is invaluable, informative and covers a range of topics specific to the needs of the sector. In our experience, the staff are supportive, patient and well-informed and if they don’t know the answer, they will research and feedback to you. Without WVCA, especially post lockdown, it would be very difficult to keep many of the services going.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton?
We have learnt that it is important to recruit staff who are passionate about improving the lives of others, particularly, those less fortunate or those who may have hit hard times for no fault of their own. Additionally, it is essential to listen to and understand the needs of the people, reflecting and drawing upon the multi-agency approach in Wolverhampton to best meet them. This, in turn, helps us to provide a quality programme that enables the participant to achieve their objectives and progress to a positive outcome.
What are some of the challenges you face and how can WVCA help to support your organisation in the future?
The main challenge is funding and sustainability. When a project ends, especially one valued by the local community, the staff must leave and the project closes, even though the service is still required. In regard to projects that have had a positive impact in the City, WVCA (via the council) should have the oversight and funding to ensure the continuation of that service.
It would be advantageous to have live data (via a portal linked to the WVCA website) listing what projects are being delivered, within which ward and what impact they are having in areas such as recruitment and outcomes.
Where can we find out more?
Contact: Robert Grant
Business Development, Partnerships & Compliance Manager
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