A new “one-stop community shop” has opened its doors in the heart of Scarborough’s Old Town.
The Base, located in Market Way, is the latest development from Castle Community Network, a local residents-led charity.
The new premises is the third point of contact for the network, which also has an IT suite and craft unit in the Market Vaults.
The aim of The Base is to allow residents in the Castle ward and North Bay to access an improved range of local opportunities, activities, help and support.
Chairman Lindy Rowley explained: “Since the office in the Market Vaults became a bit overcrowded, we realised we needed a bigger place - somewhere the community can drop in.
“The new premises are great because it will be open during the day and can also be used for meetings on a night.
“Also, with it having a proper shop front and window space, we will catch the footfall as people pass by, which is something we don’t have in the Vaults.”
Lindy added: “We are very excited to be launching the scheme and look forward to seeing the project grow over the coming months.
“The Community Network has always been about residents helping and supporting each other and The Base will make it much easier for residents to get involved in making our area a better place for everyone to live.
“We want residents to find out for themselves what we can achieve by working together. We invite the whole community to drop in for a cuppa and to share their ideas.”
The Base will be run on a day-to-day basis by volunteer manager Lewis Spence who explained that the network is circulating a questionnaire to local groups to get an idea of what kind of help is available, and what is needed, in the area.
He added: “We’re wanting this to be a real hub. I’m looking forward to being involved in a hands-on way and encourage people to call in and find out more.”
Currently, the office is opening from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, but there is a possibility of opening on a weekend in the future.
With the opening of The Base, the network’s office in Market Vaults will now be able to focus on its main purpose of being an IT facility where people can learn new skills.
Christine Mackay, who works at the suite, said due to the demand for the service, they are now looking to recruit more volunteers.
She said: “We’re hoping to develop more services around CVs and job searches, so we’re looking for people with knowledge of computers.
“There are still a lot of people in the community who haven’t got IT skills. We’re getting quite a few referrals from the Job Centre and housing associations, so we really need more funding and volunteers.”
The IT office is open Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 4pm (half day Wednesdays and Thursdays). Call (01723) 372712 to find out more.
Christine also co-ordinates Growing Opportunities, another project which runs as part of the community network.
Established in 2010, the aim is to bring together people who would like to grow their own food with people who have a patch of land to spare.
The project also supports a volunteer mentoring scheme to share gardening skills and saw three community gardens set up last year following a grant from the Health Lottery.
At the moment the project needs more funding, but none has become available this year.
However, Christine is hoping that they will get some more funds next year for what has been a popular and worthwhile project.
She said: “Anything that involves contact with nature is rewarding, especially for children. If they’ve grown something themselves, they’re more likely to want to eat it.”
Another popular branch of the network’s services has been Castle Community Crafts, based in the Market Vaults.
Building on the success of a weekly hand-sewing workshop, the craft unit sessions give people chance to learn and explore various creative techniques.
Dianne Murphy-Rodgers volunteers at the unit, running sessions such as Blue Bin crafts, and is now going into self employment with her own company, Rubbish Revolution.
She will go into schools and work with youngsters on creating artwork from recyclable and reusable materials.
Dianne said: “I believe all people are creative – you just need to be able to tap into that.
“I’ve met so many lovely people here and there are lots of new projects coming up.”
Emma Teasdale, who also volunteers at the craft unit, said: “The sessions have been proving really popular - it’s just got bigger and bigger.
“There’s a real emphasis on make do and mend.”
With so much going on at Castle Community Network, it is an exciting time for the charity.
If you would like to find out more, or get involved by attending sessions or volunteering, call in to The Base, the IT office or craft unit, or telephone (01723) 372712.