For the Committee to receive an update from the Family and Community Services Manager.
Reporting Person: Adam Thomas
Councillor Sanderson informed the Committee of an error in the public document pack that included the report for the Item 6, Community Lottery Proposal Update, instead of the Centres for the Community report. The correct report had been published as a supplement and Members were referred to that instead.
Adam Thomas, Head of Family & Community Services, was invited to make a presentation to the Committee.
In response to an Action from the Council’s Woking For All strategy, the services at the Community Centres had been broadened to provide for all residents of the Borough. Adam updated the Committee with a selection of the broadened services that were accessible at the Centres. The overall use rate of the Centres had increased significantly over the last two years.
A large focus had been put towards forming partnerships with other organisations to provide services to residents from the Community Centres. Following questions from Members, Adam confirmed that partnerships between the Council and health providers were continuing to be developed. Adam highlighted the success of bringing health services into Moorcroft.
Over the past two years the Community Services team had changed the model by which the Community Centres were run. Previously, the Centres had mostly been funded directly by the Council. The model now promoted Social Entrepreneurship, whereby the cafés and kitchens were leased as opposed to the Council employing staff. Additionally, the administration of and care for the Centres had been centralised. The combined effect, once completed, was anticipated to save the Council approximately £300,000 per annum.
As part of the centralisation of administration, the bookings system had been unified. Members asked if it would be appropriate to have a centralised booking system online. A member of staff had been employed to handle bookings centrally via a phone system, which was deemed a highly effective method of handling bookings as frequently the circumstances of each booking had specific criteria.
Feedback had been gathered from staff and users of the regular day services run for older members of the Community at the Centres. The feedback highlighted the importance of the services in providing socialisation for users, and the impact that Covid-19 related lockdowns had on users when these services could not be provided.
Adam confirmed that there would be no service hiatus in the Sheerwater area due to the regeneration. It was planned that services continue to be run from Parkview until the new Community Centre was opened, at which point services would be transferred to the new Centre.
The café at Moorcroft had recently closed. The closure was due to the model used by the charity running the café not being viable. However, a new organisation that provided support care to adults had agreed to take over the café from January 2023.
Members queried if the increase in usage would prevent the Centres’ use as vaccination centres. The Centres had been considered for the Covid vaccination programme; however, they had been deemed too small. The Centres were used for flu vaccination programmes.
The Communities Team expected to focus on further increasing the different services available at all Community Centres and in particular making the services more diverse. Members discussed cloud kitchens and it was confirmed that Foodwise, an organisation operating in the Borough, was considering how best to utilise the kitchen spaces at Community Centres.
The Committee requested that more information be provided on how the Centres were monitored.
The Committee thanked Adam for the presentation.
That the changes and transformation of the Centres for the Community to reflect the Council’s strategic priorities be noted.