Guys trip to the Skygarden


We loved seeing these pictures from yesterday’s trip to the Skygarden organised by Laurie, formerly of Age UK Camden. Several of our CHAPS – Ian, Martin, Dennis, Alan, Bryan, Tim & Mike – got together for the afternoon trip & enjoyed a good chinwag, coffee, taking pictures and going up 37 floors to the spectacular views from the top.

I’m told one of the guys was new to the group and is going to come along to more CHAPS events at the Abbey in future after really enjoying the trip, which is great!


Nice shades guys!

With huge thanks to Laurie for organising – he hopes to run some other trips in future too. In his words ‘life is for having fun and London is a great adventure playground if you want it to be!’

If you know someone who would be interested in getting to know other guys in his local area, why not put him in touch with us? We have a new men’s ‘barbershop’ afternoon on Fridays which has proven very popular so far – but there’s always room to pull up another chair at the dominoes table! Contact Gavin on 07505 933617 or

Spring clean courtesy of Marriott Park Lane

We’d like to say a belated thank you to volunteers from Marriott Park Lane, who came to Abbey as part of their Spirit to Serve day and gave our kitchen the most thorough of deep cleans!


Here they are with Laura, who runs our Saturday cafe at the centre. With around 70 guests coming every week, it can be a challenge to keep it spick and span (and hold on to our 5* food hygiene rating!)

The group from Marriott were absolutely brilliant, getting into all the nooks and crannies and even taking on the fridge (not for the faint hearted!) They also win an award for most cheerful cleaning team…

The Abbey kitchen is at the absolute heart of our centre so it’s such a treat to have it really professionally clean once again. We look forward to welcoming the group back to the centre soon!

Abbey Community Centre’s Kilburn Good Neighbours scheme wins the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service!

If you look back to our blog in May you’ll remember that there was a bit of news we’ve been keeping under our hats. We’re delighted that we’re now able to share it with you: our befriending scheme for over 60s, Kilburn Good Neighbours, has won the 2018 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK to recognise exceptional service in the community.

Kilburn Good Neighbours has been running for almost TWO DECADES and supports over 130 local over 60’s to stay happy and independent in their own homes – just where they want to be.

“If I did not have these two lovely young ladies helping me, I would be out of sorts as I am not able to climb ladders etc. because of health problems. I thank Joanna from Kilburn Good Neighbours for sending me these two lovely ladies.” – KGN member

All of this is made possible through the support of our 40-strong team of caring, dedicated, warm and patient volunteers who share cups of tea, conversations, games of scrabble and practical support with their older neighbours. They come from all walks of life and are all ages – some are young professionals who are new to the area; some are retired folk who enjoy community work. All of them are brilliant people who bring light into the lives of older people who, for whatever reason, may have become isolated or housebound.


“I have nothing but praise for Kilburn Neighbours, my volunteer visitor is a most delightful person, I constantly enjoy her visits, we have become good friends.” – KGN member

Some of these volunteers have been with us since the scheme started in 1998, which is incredible and a testament to their dedication to our local community in Kilburn and West Hampstead.

“They are always there if you need them, a phonecall away. As for my (befriender) Y, she is my lifeline to the outside world too as I am housebound due to illness. She is always there when I need a friend or when I am feeling down and lonely. She is the nearest thing to a family I have. We chat about life and things important to me, like history, and we have coffee mornings and lovely talks. We do crosswords to keep my mind active and sharp as I worry about dementia and alzheimers” – KGN member

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is a unique UK national honour was created by Her Majesty to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002 and to recognise the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers. It’s known  as the ‘MBE for volunteer groups’! This year there were 250 winners from across the UK.  Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said:

Everyone who has received this award should be incredibly proud. Their service, commitment and care has a profoundly positive impact on communities throughout the country and I am delighted they have been recognised with this prestigious award.

As part of our award we received a very exclusive invite to the garden party at Buckingham Palace on Saturday 2nd June, which was very much enjoyed by our scheme manager of 20 years, Joanna, and long-standing volunteer Yvonne. It was a beautiful day for it and they had a great laugh, making sure they queued up twice to sample all the treats on offer!

We would like to thank the Queen’s Award committee and everyone behind the event organisation for a wonderful afternoon, as well as Her Majesty herself of course for this fantastic accolade. We are so proud of our volunteers and we hope this award will really help them to understand the magnitude of what they’re doing week by week – as they boil the kettle, get the scrabble out or pick up the paper on the way to see their befriending partner.

For more info about Kilburn Good Neighbours please do visit our website. And to read more about the Queen’s Award and to see a full list of winners you can click here.

Congratulations to the Kilburn Good Neighbours!

Summery Saturday Shenanigans!

We’ve had a busy few Saturdays at Abbey to kick off the summer. On the 14th April punters flocked to the Abbey garden for our plant sale. We managed to raise £115.50 in total which will go towards maintenance of the garden. 

Massive thanks to Maria-Elena, our volunteer head gardener, who organised everything and to all who help keep the garden in good nick. Our garden volunteering sessions are running on Friday mornings 11am – 1pm once more so please feel free to come along. We always need more helpers. 


Speaking of helping, centre regular and local budding entrepreneur Chloe created new badges for all the volunteers at the cafe; a personal touch for each which has been much appreciated! And the kids from our arts’n’crafts sessions (Saturdays 11am-1pm) have made a cafe  sign that goes outside cafe every week now. It’s rather beautiful and will be sure to catch the eyes of passer-bys. 


As well as this the kids (and adults!) have been making cute flora and fauna out of recycled materials. Maybe I’ll hold on tighter to all those loo rolls in future rather than just chucking them out…

Also on the theme of reducing waste, on Saturday 21st the clever people at Restart came to see us to fix up all manner of electrical items, so they don’t have to be thrown out. Here they are working their magic! The Restart Parties always book up quickly, so make sure you keep an eye out for when the next one (August 18th) is open for bookings. 

Here are the stats from the session. 31kg of waste prevention is pretty impressive we think! 

Saturdays May 18

Elsewhere, centre volunteer Dave has been providing a valuable service to our cafe users: Dave’s Shredding Service! This simple idea means that people can bring their personal and financial documents along to the cafe and use Dave’s shredder to dispose of them, an important part of preventing identity theft and fraud. His next service will be June 2nd at the cafe so make sure you get your old letters and bank statements ready for then. 


On the 1st May, 22 of us took a trip down to the Royal Albert Hall for their Friendship Matinee, which is an opportunity for community groups to see world-class shows for just £5 a ticket. Yes please! The atmosphere was electric and it was a great opportunity for everyone to bond over classic tunes. 

 And as well as all this, the food at the Saturday cafe itself keeps getting better and better thanks to Jenny and her superstar team of volunteers. Check it out…

All made using Felix Project food collections, all £2 or less and all made with love. Love the look of that tropical fruit meringue! Some lovely comments from our feedback forms:

“Excellent, l try food l have never eaten before”
“Fab food was great. Lots of friends to say hello to”
“Great and lovely to meet people on a lonely bank holiday weekend”
“Great. Thanks for the comforting food. I wasn’t feeling too well and pals helped enormously”

So nice to hear, thank you! It’s definitely the combination of fab food and great company that makes the cafe special, long may it continue. Which brings us on to the very welcome news that we have received two years worth of funding for the cafe from the People’s Health Trust! We will also be using this funding to set up a new ‘cafe committee’ as a new way for the community to have their say in how the cafe is run and contribute their ideas for new activities, recipes and initiatives we could incorporate into the project. Please contact Laura for info on 07447932564. Big thanks to the People’s Health Trust. 


Finally some pics from Tech Buddies to round it off! Do keep up to date with the project here.  We were delighted to get some Big Lottery Fund money through for it recently which will mean we can keep changing lives with tech.

Hope to see you one Saturday soon!

Saturday cafe: Farewell Joanna!

It’s a beautiful day in Kilburn (just look at our garden!) and we’re all feeling pretty chipper at Abbey Community Centre. The sun is shining, we won the Boccia last week, and our first ‘Men’s Barbershop’ afternoon last Friday was a storming success (despite our barber being taken ill, the guys still had fun playing ping-pong and dominoes!)

However, the mood is bittersweet as this week we say farewell to one of our most long-standing members of staff, the wonderful Joanna, who has been working at Abbey for a whopping 20 years! It was originally Joanna who set up our hugely successful Kilburn Good Neighbours project, which will now be managed by our CHAPS manager Gavin.

Kilburn Good Neighbours makes a huge difference to the lives of local older people who are less able to get out and about. One of our members below has been with us for 15 years which speaks to the benefit people experience from being part of the scheme. Joanna is a local hero and much loved at Abbey for her warmth and great sense of humour!

At the last Saturday cafe we said goodbye to Joanna in style, with gifts and pics with some of her longest standing Kilburn Good Neighbours pairings.

A note from Joanna:

“It’s my last week at the Abbey Community Centre this week and I’m saying goodbye to Kilburn Good Neighbours – the project I set up 20 years ago! I’m so proud of the good neighbour scheme that has grown into one of the centre’s most long-running and successful projects, currently helping over 130 older people to feel less isolated and over 40 volunteers to feel useful, connected and gain valuable work experience. It’s been sad saying goodbye to some of the scheme members who I’ve known for many years and who have seen me through different stages of my life including the birth of both my kids and more! I’ll also miss the volunteers – some of whom have become good friends over the years.  But I won’t be going far, I’m moving to the Hampstead Wells and Campden Trust in Hamsptead to work as their Case Worker and Development Worker and a large part of my job will be visiting older people in Kilburn and Hampstead and helping them to apply for grants and other assistance. I’m sure I’ll be popping into the Abbey Community Centre when I’m in the area and I’ve offered to come along to any Abbey coach trips as a volunteer since I’ve loved taking our members to the seaside and all sorts of places over the years! Also, keep your eyes peeled for the exciting send off I’m sharing with one of our longest standing volunteers on 5th June – Bryony will reveal all to you then!

With best wishes to all the Abbey Community Centre and Kilburn Good Neighbours – Keep in touch…


Sounds intriging… and best of luck to Joanna in her new role. So glad you’re only just down the road!

From next week onwards, the Kilburn Good Neighbours scheme will be managed by Gavin, who can be reached on For more info go to:

CTCer Spotlight: Jean

While interviewing Jean in coffee morning, her friend Sally gives her take on today’s interviewee.  She’s a ’very generous lady’ and ’the life and soul of the party’! Can’t argue with that—and can I add that Jean is always on hand to help me with envelope stuffing. You might recognise her from our Dick Whittington panto where she starred as Idle Jack!


How did you find out about Abbey Community Centre?
I saw an advert for crotchet classes on the bus stop! In the end I didn’t end up going to crotchet but joined almost everything else… I’ve been coming to the centre for about two and a half years now.

What is a typical week for you at the community centre?
Tuesdays is keep fit at 1pm, followed by bingo and then Re-cycle-art at 4pm—so it’s 1—6pm on Tuesdays! On Fridays I come along to coffee morning and Boccia. Oh, and a few of us, Violet and Connie and so on, we go to the pictures now on Mondays. Simone also organises wonderful trips for the art group like to Hampton Court and Kew.


How would you describe the experience of being part of CTC?
Just lovely friendly people. Companionship.

What is the best thing about Abbey Community Centre?
It’s open almost every day now! And the staff are always amicable.

Have you spotted anything on the Calendar of Upcoming events that you would like to be part of?
The Royal Albert Hall trip on May 1st. Even though I’m a Londoner I’ve never been. What else is coming up… well I generally end up taking part in anything people ask me to!

What one thing would you say to others about the centre?
When I first came along I was quite scared—I thought people might be judgemental or rude. But it’s not like that here. Everyone accepts you for who you are. The centre’s like a party everyday!

How would you sum up Abbey Community Centre in three words?
Home from home! Can’t find fault. Exceptional!

That’s six words, but we’ll take it!

Note from the editor: Thanks Jean for chatting to me about your experiences of the centre. If you’d like to be interviewed or have a story to share, do get in touch on or 07805869136.




All about orchids: Re-cycle-art update

Our Re-cycle-art group (Tuesdays 4-6pm) have been busy recently creating paper orchids, ready for the spring. The group love to get out and about to hunt for inspiration and the idea came about after a visit to the Kew Gardens Orchid Festival.

The orchid festival is held every year and this year the theme was Thailand. Thailand is home to 1,100 species of orchids (orCHID you not!) and the colourful floral displays in the tropical glasshouse were a fitting tribute. There was also a special Thai cart on loan from Thailand’s embassy in London.

Back at the centre the group got busy painting the ‘petals’ with soft pastel before forming them into the orchid using wire and tape.

We think you’ll agree they look absolutely gorgeous and so realistic! Eventually we’re aiming to have a stem with six orchids, each member making a separate branch. We’ll use this as a decoration in the centre.

Re-cycle-art is always open for new members, so if you like what you see here why not pop by one Tuesday and join in? Or if you fancy heading out on a trip like our one to Kew, have a look at the new Neighbours2Friends page on our website.