PEOPLE living in Carrbrook hope to build a sense of community by starting a new hub where folk living nearby can learn new things, do activities or simply pop in for tea and toast.
Carrbrook Community Hub has given new life to a former base of the now defunct Carrbrook Community Co-operative on Broadbent Close.
Already it holds twice-weekly tea and toast mornings, armchair exercise classes under the name ‘Ageless Grace’, bingo and sign language classes run by a deaf user of the facility.
From February 27, ‘plastic band’ sessions, where children can turn things like washing up liquid bottle into instruments, will also be held there.
A craft club is also getting started while a mums and tots group is also planned and if the suggestions board behind chair Diane Shepley-Newton and secretary Linda McLarnon is anything to go by, quiz nights, a social club featuring table football and air hockey, Knit n Natter, Walk n Talk and Reiki sessions are also in the pipeline.
Already dozens of people use the facility and sees local councillor Jan Jackson hold surgeries there but it is open to anyone from Carrbrook.
And thanks to the kindness of the owners of the nearby Raja’s store on Huddersfield Road, all food and drink for the tea and toast mornings are covered.
Diane explained: “Years ago the hub used to be an office and we opened it on a voluntary basis.
“It was a place where people would come and report any issues on the estate or say they need repairs to their house.
“However as people got older and there were fewer and fewer of us who could do it, it became too much and we had to shut down.
“The space was kept and Mosscare St Vincents would be willing to let us use it if we can prove people want to use it.”
Linda added: “From November, they gave us nine months to prove that the community wanted activities, there’s nothing in Carrbrook other than the YouCan garden. Activities for other age groups just weren’t happening.
“We wanted to bring the community back together. We wanted stuff for pensioners, many of whom have known each other for 50 years but unless it was for bingo they didn’t get out and lost contact with people.
“Now we get six to eight people at a tea and toast morning, sometimes 10 on a good day.
“It’s that communication and getting together that they get now.”
Working closely with MSV, which manages many of the properties on Crowswood Estate, the hub has made a great start to achieving the proof it needs that it is here to stay.
It is not just pensioners that are regulars through the door either.
Eighteen-month-old JJ Upton brings his charm – and if the way he tucked into his toast a few crumbs – to the proceedings.
Angela Taylor has already started teaching others the sign language she uses to communicate every day.
And Terry Drabble also helps facilitate many of the sessions while when the Correspondent visited, Diane’s husband Dave was a dab hand on the toaster.
Crowswood Estate was originally owned by Manchester City Council when it was built in the 1960s but that was transferred to Mosscare, now known as MSV.
However, the collapse of the old Co-operative left a much bigger hole than was anticipated.
“It’s almost one of those, ‘Why didn’t we think of this before?’ ideas,” Diane said as she was revealed to be the driving force behind the hub’s establishment.
An open day in November was followed by Christmas parties after Tesco in Stalybridge said it would provide everything.
Organisers of the community hub now hope to build closer links with Emmaus in Mossley.
And Linda admits the mood has turned after seeing how people have reacted.
She added: “To be honest we were ready to walk away from anything like this.
“However, Diane wasn’t having it. She thought we needed to do things like this in the community.
“I can’t believe how successful the tea and toast morning have been. While Raja’s donate all the food, another lady has donated a four-slice toaster to us.
“We rely on donations at the moment but the idea of having a hub has really, really taken off.
“However, we were given nine months by MSV to prove that the community really wants something like this.”
• Tea and toast mornings take place on Monday and Wednesday from 10am-noon.
Find them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Carrbrook-Community-Hub-539949676416661/