Cornubia, part of Par Bay Big Local legacy and funded by the National Lottery, has been refurbished to provide a vibrant venue to serve the communities of Par, St Blazey and Tywardreath, helping to build a more resilient community by fostering social enterprise, encouraging creativity and promoting healthy living.
With Universal Credit due to be rolled out in February 2018 we decided on a “soft opening” in the reception area to create a home for a Job Club, Universal Credit support (free wi-fi plus computers), financial advice and food voucher distribution. Funding and in-kind support from Ocean Housing, DWP, Live West and Reed in Partnership helped us to reach the target opening date.
We have appreciated the support of community volunteers and local organisations in tackling the daunting task of refurbishing the former auction house and dance hall. It needed replacement windows, rejuvenating flooring, toilets, plumbing and electrical work, removal of old structures / partitions, suspended ceilings, new doorways + fire doors, lift repairs; more recently: new kitchen downstairs + creation of Community Room with additional toilet.
Along with free internet access, we can now offer venue hire for community use – a community activity room and kitchen, ground floor hall with accessible toilet, a small interview room and first floor hall with a sprung floor. The reception has evolved into a retail space housing crafts made by local residents.
We have a growing number of regular activities on offer to boost health and wellbeing: Tai Chi, Taekwondo, Yoga, Kettle Bells, dance and theatre, local artists’ craft workshops, gallery and shop, craft fairs, exhibitions. Craft sessions are very popular with a busy knitting group, sewing sessions and pottery all popular and small cookery workshops starting in the autumn of 2020 in the new kitchen space.
We have welcomed Dragon’s Den style bidding events (Soup) and Community Hub research sessions for other community groups wanting to set up their own centres. The fuschia festival is becoming an established annual event and we aim to hold regular craft fairs. Cornwall Councillor surgeries, Neighbourhood planning group, PCSO surgeries have been able to use our premises.
In addition to to this, for social enterprise tenants, we provide affordable incubation space in a creative and shared environment. This allows residents to test out a business idea and move on to larger premises once they have found their feet.
The year started well with Winter Wellbeing workshops offering pottery, crafts, poetry writing and other activities.
The local police ran monthly drop-in sessions to allow residents to share any concerns.
We were delighted with our new kitchen and Community Room. What a luxury to be able to wash up cups in a sink after years of “camping”. This will be a really flexible area for use as a meeting room or “memory café” or small cooking workshop. We will be inviting community groups to fill a display shelf to promote their activities once we have prepared the shelf units.
No sooner had the kitchen been completed the pandemic spread and lockdown was enforced.
What a strange time this was. Our community support was focused on the Community Garden but we were able to provide information in the front window for those with no internet access.
We were pleased to be able to offer support for the St Blazey Reuse, Recycle food provision for families in difficulty and the Kernow Youth Family Food boxes.
Meetings were made via Zoom. Community groups were able to use the Community Trust Zoom account to arrange meetings.
Made by the Sea craft shop was extended into the reception area to allow social distancing. Over 20 local creatives exhibit their crafts in Cornubia. This came into its own later in the year for Christmas presents. A virtual shop window was used on the Facebook page while the shop was closed. We really do have a great pool of artistic talent in our community!
In September we were allowed to run mutual support sessions to relieve anxiety and depression.
Reachout Creative Futures (a small 16+ group) and CRCC Work Your Way (providing support into work) are two new groups we were delighted to have as part of the team. We welcomed back old friends – Knit and Natter and Tai Chi, both providing mutual support for companionship and mental wellbeing.
Under the Sun Ceramics was able to move into the refurbished studio at the rear of the building with small socially distanced groups.
Roofing works started over the summer months which meant the upper hall had to be kept closed. Restormel Reupholstery provided the protective padding for our posts in the lower hall for Ashita Kai Karate Kids, Celtic Warriors Taekwondo group and also for Capitol Dance who were a welcome addition to our activity groups.
It was a great relief when the new roof was completed and the scaffolding was removed.