Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Visiting Strood Community Project

Mark Reckless MP visited the Strood Community Project on Friday (14th January) to see for himself how the project is working to help the people of Strood and beyond.

Visiting the project’s office and shop in Strood High Street, Mark was keen to learn more about the wide range of assistance the Strood Community Project provides to local residents.

Strood Community Project was set up as an initiative of the Parishes of St Francis of Assisi and St Nicholas with St Mary, together with Strood Gospel Mission Church (Baptist affiliated). It aims to help the local community tackle fundamental issues such as education, safety, increased employment, life skills and crime.

The Project is run by a group of dedicated staff working alongside volunteers who provide advice and counselling to the public on a wide range of issues such as housing, debt, and employment.

Photo: Mark Reckless MP visits Strood Community Project. From left: Kate Broom (project manager), Paul Robinson (general manager), Mark and Paul Rai (volunteer)

During the visit Mark got the opportunity to discuss how Strood Community Project has developed since it’s establishment in 2006, and it’s plans for the future which include registering as a charitable company.

As well as offering ‘walk in’ advice to the public, Strood Community Project has developed the range of services it provides to include basic skills tuition in English and Maths, computer skills training, CV preparation and interview skills training, and bespoke projects which improve the physical environment within the local area.

Volunteer Paul Rai is calling for local residents to help as volunteers:

“I got involved with the Strood Community Project because I want to help the people in my community. The project can’t afford full-time advisors and relies on volunteers to help people who come in off the street with their problems. We make sure we listen to everyone and provide the support and guidance they need, no matter what the problem is.

Through volunteering I’ve learnt how to help people who have problems with debt or housing, and you often find that the issues people discuss with us are often caused by more serious problems that aren’t being addressed. We can help with that!

I would strongly urge anyone who cares about our community to get involved with the Strood Community Project. It brings our community together, and for some it could be a lifesaver.”

Paul Robinson, general manager, was encourage by the visit:

"It was a privilege to welcome Mark Reckless to our Advice Centre. This acknowledgement of the importance of community organisations in addressing local needs was a great encouragement and we look forward to keeping him informed with developments in our work.

Being an independent, local organisation we are able to respond to community issues as they become apparent and we see this as a vital characteristic of an organisation that intends to thrive over the coming few years."

Speaking after the visit, Mark Reckless said:

“I’m really impressed with how the Strood Community Project has progressed since I first visited when it opened. To me the SCP is a good model for how local charities and community projects can work to improve our local area by empowering residents and helping them to address their problems.

I was particularly impressed with the work they are doing with volunteers such as Paul Rai. By providing them with the skills to tackle issues such as poor social housing or debt problems, they are investing in more than just the volunteer. They are investing in our community.”

For more information on the Strood Community Project, please visit http://www.stroodcommunityproject.org.uk/ or call 01634 298747.

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