Hard hats and hanging baskets – a beautiful transformation!

Recently our endlessly inventive Re-cycle-art group outdid themselves, creating some amazing hanging baskets out of spare hard hats from Wates Group. They are absolutely fantastic! The baskets will be hung at their site office in Camden.

Here are just some of the gorgeous designs:


Two of the Wates team came to visit us and the art crew loved posing with them in their hats.

Look at Su’s ladybird number above! Thanks to Wates for popping by and making these artworks possible.  We hope you enjoy the baskets and this gives everyone some Re-cycle-art inspiration.

Can you Dig It?

Yes you can! With a donation from Olswang’s Green Seed Fund, we’ve started a new, all-ages gardening, craft and conservation project, Dig It! Our lead gardener Maria Elena is running the sessions every Saturday morning – one from 10 – 11am, one from 11.15am – 12.15pm. Our first one took place last Saturday and was a roaring success.

Here’s Maria Elena setting up. The idea behind Dig It! is to raise awareness of environmental issues in a fun way, while allowing children and adults to express their creativity. For those who don’t have their own garden at home, it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend some time in nature, learn about conservation and grow your own plants and veggies.

We had quite a few toddlers in the first morning session! Getting them enjoying flowers, gardening and recycled craft from a young age is the best way to foster good habits for life and spark an interest in nature. Maria Elena had a genius idea to have all participants make their own ‘gardening journal’ to use for the duration of the project, recording what they planted or made. Here they are doing some beautiful collages for the front of their journals.

We had a good mix of girls, boys, young and older folks! Both sessions were fully booked, with some older children coming to the second one of the day.

Proud of their artwork!

Then it was time to venture outside, where participants made some planters made from recycled plastic bottles, filled them with compost and planted some lettuces, coriander and radishes. We’ll be watching their progress over the next few weeks.

Everyone got stuck in under the guidance of the lovely Maria Elena.

We’d like to thank Olswang again for their grant without which this project wouldn’t be happening. Everyone loved it and all our sessions are booking up quickly. We’ll be running Dig It! til late September.

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Drumroll please…

We have some exciting news!

You have probably noticed Saturday Club getting more and more popular over the past year. As well as keeping Laura very fit, the increased numbers are a testament to the hard work and creativity of the many CTC volunteers who help us cook, clean and organise each month.

Well… because of this increasing demand, on May 6th we opened our doors for our very first pop-up community cafe which will be open every Saturday from now on! 

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This is a place for the whole community—from CTCers to the families who use our crèche – to drop in and enjoy. The cafe is being run by our very own Laura along with our wonderful new cook, Jenny. There is a (very) small charge in place for food and drink – we made it £2 per hot meal on Saturday. There are also some cold/snacky options, fruit, cakes, coffee and tea all at affordable prices. How do we keep it so cheap? By recycling food! The majority of the food is coming from the wonderful people at the Felix Project, who redistribute food waste from local supermarkets which is still in perfectly good nick. We are also receiving donations from our local M&S. We’re going to make delicious, healthy, vegetarian meals from it – look at the chickpea, tomato and cinnamon and the red lentil and carrot soups below!

The café has created numerous oppportunities for volunteering (see the lovely team from Sat 6th below – thanks Zainab, Kanchan, Alan, Jean, Dee and Silvana for helping Jenny out!) as well as meaningful work experience in catering and customer service, particularly for people looking to get into work. If you know anyone who might be interested, please tell us. 

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And we’re not just dishing up food, though that’s a big part of it! We want the centre to be a safe, friendly place for people of all ages to come and spend their Saturday. We’ll have our table tennis tables out to use and some soft play equipment for the kids. You can read up on some healthy eating tips and find out what’s happening at the centre that week. And we’ll have a weekly market stall at the cafe selling our wares from all the CTC groups – beautiful crafts from RE-CYCLE-ART, sewing and crochet products, baked goods from our cooking clubs, produce from the garden and anything else you can think of! This will give you guys an opportunity to raise some funds for your group and to showcase your talents. Crotchet group sold some gorgeous crotchet roses on Saturday:

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The cafe has been opened thanks to a grant from the Food For London / Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund over at the London Community Foundation. We have the grant in place for one year, with some of our costs being covered by the proceeds from the cafe – like a social enterprise. We had loads of people on Saturday 6th and are sure it will continue to grow as we start advertising to the wider community. See below Alan and Jean, surveying their kingdom!

Please do bring some spare change and come and join us soon – we’re open every Saturday, 11am-2pm. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, give Laura a ring on 07447 932 564.  The cafe has its own website, which is under construction, but watch this space for more info. You can also follow the cafe on Instagram, to see what we cook up next!

Healthy baking inspiration with Westminster Kingsway cakes course

Recently Abbey Community Centre has been lucky enough to start playing host to an 8-week baking course run by Westminster Kingsway College. Under the guidance of tutor Lois, attendees will be learning how to make all sorts of ‘free-from’ cakes – gluten free, vegan, refined-sugar free… this was the first week of the course and they rustled up an apple crumble traybake.

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The cake was vegan, so free-from dairy but certainly not free-from tastiness! Our Centre Manager Leo is a vegan and as it was his birthday, the group treated him to the resulting traybake. All of the Abbey staff gladly tucked in. Looking forward to seeing what the group bake next!

We’ve had a makeover!

As you may have noticed, Abbey has been given a revamp! We’d like to extend a big thanks to Wates Group, who volunteered to paint our outside walls this beautiful blue. The whole centre looks fresher and smarter and hopefully more welcoming for everyone who walks by.

Wates also did some work in our garden, staining the planters to freshen them up too.

Thanks so much for giving up your time all – the centre looks lovely.

Déjà vu on the canal

The morning trip to Camden’s canal, headed by our CHAPS coordinator Gavin, was a unique and delightful experience for everyone involved. While many of the members had never set foot on a canal boat others had worked on site several years ago.

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A couple romantically reminisced about a weekend boating trip in Leeds which happened to be one of the “best breaks” they’d ever been on.
One gentleman wanted to really get stuck into canal life by opening the lock and was lucky enough to get some assistance from the skipper as well as Norman, a boating enthusiast.
Some attendees had such a positive reaction to the trip they were considering and enquiring about renting a boat for themselves!

Thanks again Tarporley crew for making this lovely adventure possible J
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A treat for you! Here’s a snapshot from a wonderful coffee morning at the Marriott Hotel, Maida Vale. A big thank you to the staff who arranged this!