Several projects involving rebuilding and refurbishment have been funded at the Balsam Community Centre: these are providing additional space to provide range of services for Wincanton and the surrounding rural hinterland area giving a greater range and quality of training facilities. Rural Renaissance initially funded the re-fitting of the training kitchen & equipment and part of the Children’s Centre, and is now funding the Turn Project. This involves the construction and refurbishment of part of the Balsam Centre, to create a dedicated teaching area, counselling & interview rooms and a ’studio space for physical and community activities.
As a result Increased numbers of groups will be able to use the centre enabling it to become more viable in the long-term.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Balsam Centre has taken a giant leap forward with the completion earlier this year of a new family training kitchen and Children’s Centre for the people of Wincanton and the surrounding area.
The training kitchen is a flexible working space with doors opening on to the gardens. It is specifically aimed at enabling small groups to develop practical skills to improve knowledge, confidence and self esteem in a friendly and stimulating environment with a view to overcoming barriers and progress to achieving personal and work related goals. To this end course tutors using the kitchen refer individuals on to other opportunities at the Balsam Centre e.g. volunteering, Yeovil College and Adult Learning & leisure courses or the Motivate (ESF) project.
The Children’s Centre provides a 30 place full day care nursery with 6 places for under two’s. In addition to high quality affordable childcare integrated with early years education, the children’s centre in partnership with the healthy living centre will become the local base for family support and health services, outreach support, and links to e.g. JobCentre Plus and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The Balsam Nursery opened in early September 2007. It is light and airy with natural wood furnishings, equipment and toys. Outdoor play is strongly encouraged and the provision has a large garden and outdoor areas, designed for pre school children by the Growing Space horticulture project. (On site partner of the Healthy Living Centre).
The remainder of the overall capital project is nearing completion, and provides a dedicated teaching space, counselling and meeting rooms, a complementary therapy room, large studio area for dance, yoga etc. and a cafe/meeting space open to all.
Case Study 1
J was referred to the Balsam Centre by her GP. She was socially isolated, seriously obese and had tried dieting without success. She joined the Balsam Centre’s weight management project which adopts a holistic programme of diet, exercise, peer and one to one support and soon started losing weight. Gaining confidence J felt able to join a new group – Make Your Experience Count – a ten week course of personal development aimed at building confidence and skills especially for those wishing to return to work. J also signed up for a computer course (ongoing) and Skills for Life course, gaining her Level 1 Literacy. An assertiveness course followed and J is now by her own admission a different person, still losing weight, actively seeking work and able to cope with life in a more positive way.
Case Study 2
A group of young offenders have been learning cooking skills, using simple fresh ingredients, they have cooked a meal each week for themselves, Balsam Centre staff and other offenders working community punishment orders each week.
Each meal time has provoked intense discussion about fresh versus processed or ready meals and participation has been complete. Some of the young people involved are now actively interested in pursuing a career in catering and have been signposted to Yeovil College.
Good relations have been developed with both offenders and Probation Service staff over this period of time and they are evaluating the impact of our service delivery.