A brand new drop in centre for the people of East Taunton opens today, Friday March 1st, thanks to the efforts of the local community, local authorities and Taunton Vale Rotary Club.
Local M.P. Rebecca Pow and Councillor Catherine Herbert, the Mayor of Taunton Deane will be on hand to offer their support to this project which aims to reverse problems associated with social deprivation and poor health.
The Link Centre, operated by the Taunton East Development Trust Ltd, provides an advice, information and drop-in facility for the six thousand residents of the Halcon, Lane and Lambrook areas of Taunton. The organisation has outgrown its present building in Outer Circle.
Paul Hughes, Chairman of the Trustees, says: “Most people are amazed to discover that Somerset’s County town is hiding one of Britain’s most deprived communities.”
“Sadly, east Taunton is an area of low incomes, child poverty and above average unemployment. These problems are compounded by multiple health issues and frequent low levels of literacy and numeracy. In the past there have been serious problems with drugs, crime and poor housing but there are signs that since the community has started coming together under the Development Trust, this tide of misfortune is turning.”
The aims of the East Taunton Development Trust are to break the cycle of deprivation by impacting on people’s daily lives. The Link Centre has already shown that it can provide a supportive, non-judgemental “safe haven” for individuals and also help to reduce isolation and vulnerability, particularly amongst those with mental health issues and the elderly.
The Link Centre manager, Denise Chidgey, says: “Now we have a bright, open reception area, decent sized office accommodation, a confidential counselling room with its own access, a kitchen area large enough to run training courses and a conservatory to provide a social meeting area. One of the key features of the Link scheme is the involvement of volunteers from within the community.”
“Over 70 local people already help out in one way or another and the better facilities will hopefully encourage others to become involved. Through our ‘Link Power’ scheme we aim to help people develop self-respect and confidence as well as providing opportunities for them to acquire life and work skills.”
“Link Power has taken on responsibility for keeping the area neat and tidy. Our volunteers mow communal grassy areas and verges, trim hedges and organise regular litter picks. For a modest charge they will also help people with gardening, disposing of unwanted items of furniture and white goods (reducing fly tipping) and even helping people move house. Volunteering at Link Power is one way people can build up their employability.”
Paul Hughes concludes: “Sometimes the media seem to be dominated by stories of poverty and crime. It’s good to be able to say – ‘hey, things can get better if people work together’. Often individuals and communities just need a leg up to get started. Then they can make things happen.”