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.

Camden Boccia League: Bowling their way to the London Sport Awards!

Last Thursday 8th March, three members of Abbey’s Boccia team rocked up to the London Sport Awards to help represent the Camden Boccia League at the ceremony in Wembley Stadium.

Dennis, Marie and Carmel were delighted to attend on Abbey’s behalf. We joined the Camden tables along with representatives from Camden Council and the other teams – Castlehaven, Somers Town Community Centre, Origin Housing, Third Age Project and St Pancras Community Association.

The Camden Boccia League was shortlisted for the ‘London Together Award’. This award was created to celebrate the achievements of the community sport sector in London; to recognise the organisations that bring together people of all ages and backgrounds to take part in physical activity, breaking down the barriers between people using the power of sport.

These things are definitely reflected in the way the Boccia league runs; every month all the teams come together for a friendly tournament at one of the venues and enjoy a tea break and chat together as well as the match. We always have a laugh at the tournaments and they bring together groups from different parts of the borough who might not otherwise have the chance to get to know each other. It’s also a totally accessible sport – you can take part whatever your fitness level or mobility.


In the end the category award went to La Liga Female Recreational Football League in Southwark – congratulations to them. We really enjoyed our trip up to Wembley! See a report from London Sport here.


Our Boccia team always welcomes new players – why not join us next time? We practice on Fridays from 12.15pm. Call Laura for more info on 07447 932564.


Aromatherapise your life!

So that cold snap we’ve just had seems to (fingers crossed!) be over and it won’t be too long before the smells of spring begin to waft through Kilburn. But until then there’s a very lovely set of scents drifting from Abbey Community Centre as Micha, a Mary Ward tutor, is leading an aromatherapy class for some of our users every Thursday.

The focus is on what essential oils can do for our bodies, especially how their natural properties can ease aches and pains, joint discomfort and poor circulation. Each week the group look at different ‘synergies’ of essential oils and blend them themselves.

There’s a fair bit of enthusiastic sniffing going on when I visit. Entering the room I already felt more relaxed! Today for the second session of the course they were blending marjoram, rosemary and bergamot. Last week they blended the oils with epsom salts to create some gorgeous bath salts.

Kanchan is always ready for a picture!

Thanks very much to Micha and Mary Ward for a really enjoyable and informative start to the course. We love being able to offer something a bit special every now and then for Abbey users.

Coming up at the café

Anyone who’s visited the Abbey Café recently knows it’s a hive of activity, with food served 11am – 2pm, people of all ages relaxing with some arts’n’crafts from 11am, and our popular Tech Buddies sessions abuzz with IT help from 10 – 12noon.

However, every now and then we like to put on something extra too! From raffles to bookswaps, we always find low-cost ways to entertain our guests. Here are the special events coming up the next few Saturdays.

Saturday 24th February 10.30am – 1pmStellaria Young Minds Workshop
Patterns and Fractals in Art: Join us for an intellectually stimulating morning of artistic and science based activities for over 55s wanting to learn new things and stay curious. £2.50, booking essential.


Saturday 3rd March (leaving café at 2pm) – Kew Gardens Trip
Trip to the Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens (by public transport). Booking essential – call 020 7624 8378 to find out more and book your place. Why not have a spot of lunch at the cafe before you head off?


Saturday 10th March (leaving café at 2pm) – London Trip
London trip (location TBC). Pop in to find out where we’re headed this time for our monthly adventures in London. Booking essential.


Saturday 17th March 11am – 1pm – Spirituality Discussion
Join Esi for a fascinating discussion on spirituality and the paranormal, encouraging all attendees to share their experiences and stories of funny coincidences or inexplicable events.
coffee morning

Saturday 17th March 11am – 12noon
Councillor’s Surgery – a great way to meet your local councillors in person and talk about any local issues which have been on your mind.

Cafe closed over Easter (March 31st & April 7th)

Saturday 14th April 11am – 2pm – Plant Sale
Plant sale! All grown by our fabulous volunteers in our award-winning community garden. All funds raised to support the Abbey Community Centre.


Saturday 21st April 12 – 3pm Restart Party
Restart Party Community Repair Shop – If you have any small broken electrical items (hairdryers, radios, microwaves, cameras etc.) you have an inkling can be fixed but don’t know how, bring them along to our Restart Party where trained volunteers will help you get them restarted. First come first served so get here early! Have lunch while you wait!

restart party

So there you have it! Plenty to tempt you to the café this spring as well as the delicious veggie food on offer. If you have any questions about the above do contact Laura on 07447 932 564. And if you have an idea yourself for a Saturday workshop or activity, do please get in touch!

IT for Beginners

As you may know, we have all sorts of IT and technology support projects going on at Abbey – our Tech Buddies home-befriending and group sessions are always busy. And we are currently lucky to be partnering with Camden Adult Community Learning to be providing a free ‘IT for Beginners’ course at the centre.


Participants will be covering everything from identifying icons on the screen to sending emails. Learning the basics is the first hurdle when it comes to making the most of your device. Tutor Pippa has been brilliant and gives attendees booklets to work from and take away with them.

The 6 week course is currently all booked up, but we will be running an intermediate course in the springtime so watch this space. Contact Gavin for more details on 07505 933617.