Summer Volunteer Partay!

Earlier this month Abbey hosted a summer get together to celebrate and thank all of the wonderful volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to help maintain and develop the centre.

img_2040_34498047154_oimg_2029_35211914671_oimg_2038_35301723656_o

As guests arrived in the lobby everyone mingled over a cup of Pimms, wine or soft drink and warmed up their taste buds with the wide selection of delicious savoury nibbles. The atmosphere quickly became vibrant and buzzing as the centre filled with a diverse range of volunteers. People caught up with their friends and were introduced to some new faces whom they’d never had the pleasure of meeting prior to the evening. We had volunteers from the Kilburn Good Neighbours scheme, Tech Buddies, Abbey’s Community Café and many other projects across the centreThe party was a brilliant opportunity for everyone to network and get in touch with the centre’s goings-on as each individual had a unique perspective on their experiences and life at Abbey.

An hour or so after everyone arrived the raffle began! Every volunteer attentively listened as they waited for the winning numbers to be announced. Many were delighted to hear their number called out and were able to choose from a scrumptious selection of boxed edible goodies and bottles of wine to take home at the end of the night.

We indulged in a second round of treats, this time yummy desserts and sweets, many of which were made in Abbey’s recent cooking and baking classes.

As the evening drew to a close we were all in for a fabulous surprise! Abbey’s Community Choir serenaded us with some classic pop songs, all acapella. This was by far the highlight of the evening, a heart-warming moment that touched all of us – to see the essence of community reflected in familiar lyrics we all knew and loved.

34640715184_a4d64fca45_o

 

Super Saturdays at Abbey Community Centre

It’s long been a dream at Abbey to open up the centre on a Saturday and set up a bit of a weekend community hub for local people – with food, activities, learning, volunteering and skills-sharing opportunities and a safe space to socialise, bring the kids and meet new people. With funding from the London Evening Standard Dispossessed Food For London fund, The Mercer’s Company, The Felix Project, law firm Olswang and Sport Relief we’ve well and truly made this a reality! It seems like every week the centre on Saturdays gets more lively, with people from all walks of life coming along to enjoy:

  • Our Saturday Cafe – very low-cost re-purposed food and drink which also happens to be delicious! Ensure you and the kids get their five-a-day and an affordable alternative to high street chains. Every Saturday, 11am -2pm
  • Dig it! sessions with Maria Elena and Simone in the garden. Learning about conservation and nature through arts and crafts. All using recycled materials. We’ve had people of all ages attend these lovely sessions. 1st two Saturdays of the month; 2 sessions 10am – 11am and 11.10am – 12.10pm.
  • Tech Buddies IT support sessions with Gavin and skilled volunteers. Get to grips with your phone or laptop. 1st three Saturdays of the month; 10am – 12noon.
  • Saturday London trips: See the sights of London with a friendly all-ages group. Next trip is to Kew Gardens on the 1st July! 1st two Saturdays of the month, 2-5pm.

Often people will come to Tech Buddies or Dig It! and then enjoy a meal at the cafe afterwards, which is lovely to see. Here’s some pics of the action from Saturdays in June.

We’ve had a fantastic couple of Saturday Cafes already this month. After a leaflet drop by the wonderful GoodGym Camden, we had loads more new people stopping by to enjoy lunch or a snack, including centre regulars, families with children to people off the street including the builders over the road! Anyone at all is welcome to come along.

All our tables have been filling up each week, with 50+ local people buying food last Saturday. Loads of great feedback too!

Happily munching!

As well as the opportunity to meet your neighbours and enjoy the relaxed vibe, we reckon the food may also be a draw.. cook Jenny and her team of volunteers have created some masterpieces. Just look at that mozzarella…

And there are always cheap, healthy options like jacket potatoes and paninis in addition to the main meal.

Not to mention dessert! These were our latest options – apple tart and some sort of creamy banoffee thing which is making me hungry for lunch…

We have a busy kitchen with 7 or 8 volunteers each week to cook and serve the food. We couldn’t do it all without them, nor without the Felix Project who bring us the bulk of ingredients, especially the fresh fruit and veg.

So why not come along next time – main meals are £2 by donation with potatoes/snack options £1.50 or less. We have fruit, tea, coffee, puddings… and for those for whom money is an issue, we can waive any obligation to donate. This cafe is for everyone and that includes those who might be facing financial difficulties.

To work up your appetite for lunch, try one of our morning activities! In the last couple of weeks, the Dig it! group have been painting pebbles and making their own scarecrows.

We love being able to welcome people of all ages, from 8 months – 80 years!

Not sure their scarecrow efforts will frighten the birds away though…

Happening at the same time as Dig It! is Gavin’s Tech Buddies IT session, where people over 60 can bring their laptops/phones/tablets and receive support from volunteers. It has been really well attended recently thanks to our loyal vols. I was amazed to hear that the lady in the large picture is NINETY-THREE years old – proving you’re never too old to get to grips with tech!

If you’re not too tired by the afternoon, you can then enjoy a trip with Simone, Gavin and locals of all ages to explore London attractions. Our most recent trips were to Camley St Natural Park and Spitalfields City Farm.

On the way to Spitalfields…

Enjoying encounters with new people as well as the local flora and fauna!

There were some lovely pics from the Camley Street outing too:

IMG_3148.JPG

So if you find yourself at a loose end one Saturday, why not nip down to Abbey? Activities are free and food very low cost. Just ring us on 020 7624 8378 for more info or to book. Hope to see you soon!

We’re also looking to expand our Saturdays even more in future, offering a range of opportunities to learn new skills and create a sort of fun Saturday School at the Abbey! If you have any suggestions, please do get in touch.

Start it up! The Restart project comes to Abbey

On Wednesday evening, we were lucky enough to play host to the wonderful Restart Project (https://therestartproject.org/). Restart empower people to use their electronics for longer to reduce waste, and frequently run community events where volunteers fix your faulty or broken electrical items.

wp_20170524_18_43_32_pro_34483801110_o

We have had Restart parties a couple of times before, and this one was hugely popular. We had items brought in ranging from a transistor radio to a hairdryer to toasters and even a toy truck! (the truck was good as new by the end!)

wp_20170524_18_43_20_pro_34483799940_o
wp_20170524_18_43_15_pro_34830449666_o
wp_20170524_18_42_33_pro_34483799770_o

Thanks to the Restart team for all the wonderful work you do. We hope to have you in again soon!

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.

IMG_0639

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! 

white_logo_color_background

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. 

volunteers 06.05.17

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:

20170511_140938

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!