People make a place, no matter how pleasant the surroundings.
So it has been uplifiting to see, first, the swell of support at a public meeting in March to highlight the plight of a crisis-hit youth and community project in Alvechurch, and then to find that had crystallised into people stepping forward to offer their help.
The Lounge, which took so much effort to get off the ground and which has proved such a success in its first aim of providing an outlet for young people, is facing an uncertain future.
The ripples spreading from reductions in public support across the land are now reaching and damaging such worthwhile organisations.
Nevertheless, these volunteers are giving their time and skills to try to find a way forward as The Lounge’s financial support is swept away.
We see the same commitment from volunteers across the Village area in so many different spheres, from the Lickey Hills Society, whose members strive to preserve the natural beauty of the area, to the Street Pastors of Bromsgrove, who stay up late at weekends to make sure revellers – some of them our young people – get home safely from the town’s pubs and clubs.
And then there are all the people who helped Alvechurch Football Club host its biggest crowd since the early 1970s and get its ground ready for potential promotion.
As we go to press, Alvechurch is gearing up for what is now the annual Picnic in the Park, while Blackwell’s summer festival is to be matched by a similar event in Lickey, and Barnt Green has just seen volunteers organise a Sport Relief fun run that brought the whole community together.
What is remarkable is that the people running such organisations and events continue to do so, often unaided by outside sources, while daily family life appears to be getting more hectic, with all hands to the pump to pay for sky-high property prices and rents.
So while there are some disappointments, such as the lack of support for a reignition of Alvechurch Alight! and the cancellation of the annual towpath bike ride to Worcester because some participants weren’t raising any money for charity, community spirit continues to thrive and enhance the lives of everyone in this area.
Let’s just hope no one dares to declare that this is “Big Society” in action.
This was an article published in "The Village". The Village is a very popular and highly regarded monthly magazine serving the thriving and beautiful north Worcestershire countryside between Bromsgrove, Birmingham, Solihull and Redditch. The online version can be found at: http://villageonline.co.uk/
The Lounge will be at the 2016 Picnic in the Park with several stands to help raise money to keep this valuable community asset going.
We will be hosting a refreshment stand, a nearly new childrens sale, a Youth @thelounge stand, a lottery and our own Bake off and cake stand.
How you can help.
You may of noticed that one of the last updates was stating The Lounge had a crisis meeting over it's future due to large scale cutbacks in its funding.
We are pleased to say, a large number of people, realising what a valuable asset The Lounge is to the village of Alvechurch and indeed, to the larger parish area, put themselves forward to help get The Lounge back on it's feet and hopefully make it even better than ever before.
We have enlisted new trustees, a chairperson and treasurer, as well as teams dedicated to enhancing fundraising, financial stability and youth provisioning.
There have been several meetings and countless emails exchanges with ideas, many we will be rolling out over the next few weeks.
We are having to make some tough choices throughout this period, but be rest assured they are in the best interest of The Lounge and Alvechurch Communities Together. Only by making tough decisions now can we ensure the long term survivability of the project.
However there is one critical element that we cannot survive without and that is the custom of the people of Alvechurch. The more you use the facilities, the more money we raise and the more we secure its future.
So please support us, by dropping in for a coffee and cake, making a donation, entering the forthcoming lottery or consider doing a sponsored event in out name.
Thank you everyone, for you continued support and understanding.
We'd like to thank everyone that turned up on Monday the 9th of March for the future of the Lounge meeting. The turn out was far better than we had could ever hoped for with some very positive responses form all areas of our community. It was hosted by Dave Shoesmith who has been involved from the beginning, but recently stepped down for personal reasons, but volunteered to be the voice of The Lounge, as it is still close to his heart.
Frank views about the future were put out to the audience as The Lounge and Alvechurch Communities Together have always believed in being honest and open about the project, as it affects everyone in the parish. The feedback we received from everyone attending was very positive and open, with some very good suggestions coming forward.
One theme that came out over and over again, was what an impact the Lounge has had,not just with the youth, but the much wider community, be they young or old.
At the meeting we asked for people to volunteer to step up and take on the role of trustee to help push the project into the next phase and ensure that it not only gets through these short term issues, but develop it even further. Once the board of trustees is appointed, we will then be spreading our search out further to members of the community who can bring real world skills to the project and help push it onward and secure its future.
Once again a big thank you to everyone that attended.
It has been six and a half years since "The Lounge" project was initiated. In that time it has overcome many challenges: Now, in March 2016, it faces its most serious yet. As many of you will have heard over the last eight weeks The Management Group has been reduced to four and, as a result, we now have no elected Chair, Secretary or Treasurer. Alongside this, due to Government cuts, funding from Worcestershire County Council will cease from March 2016. The future of the project now lies in the balance.
A public meeting is to be held on March 7th at 7.30pm at The Baptist Church Hall to discuss the future of the project; at which it is hoped new personnel and new ideas will be forthcoming to overcome the latest challenge. We would encourage you to come along if you are keen to see this project move forward into a new phase.
As some of you may already be aware, The Lounge and ACT have experienced some tragic losses over the recent months.
In early December, a well known and respected figure in Alvechurch, David Matthews, passed away aged 71. David was the first chairperson of ACT and in this role, helped provide a great deal of local knowledge and skills which helped drive the project along.
Towards the end of January, we were once again shocked by the tragic news that Sally Yates passed away unexpectedly. Sally was chair of ACT for two years until she resigned in October 2015 for family reasons. Not before she had been instrumental in seeing the transformation of The Lounge to the current look of an American themed diner, which once again put the youth at the heart of the village.
Emily her daughter, was for some time our project co-ordinator and Sally was always a support to her, which led her to becoming a member of the management group four years ago. Her knowledge of HR and her ability to conciliate was of great benefit to the project and will be sadly missed.
Whilst we were still coming to terms with the losses of these two incredible people, we were taken aback by the tragic passing of Roger Hollingworth. Many people knew Roger from his work as the Bromsgrove District Council Leader, but many are unaware of his later work as treasurer for The Lounge. Using his skills and connections he gained as a councillor, he proved to be one of the Lounge's most passionate fund-raisers and campaigners, never letting an opportunity slip by.
All the members of The Lounge and Alvechurch Communities Together, have been deeply moved by the loss of three important members of our community, who were not only colleagues, but also very dear friends to many. We wish to pass our condolences to the families of David, Sally and Roger with the knowledge they will be deeply missed.
If you haven't seen the new look, Lounge, then pop down. Thanks to a fantastic effort by a large number of volunteers over a long weekend the Lounge was transformed into an American style diner.
We aim to have a more detailed post about the refresh as soon as possible, but if you want to see for yourself the amazing results, pop down during opening hours.