Organisation looking to raise £10k to help fit out its new cafe, shop, office and training space
Change is in the air at Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency (GCDA).
Having spent more than four decades helping people in the borough through its community hubs, free training programmes, enterprise support and food projects, the organisation is set to open a new base of operations on Royal Hill.
Located on the ground floor of London Square’s Old Police Station development, the new facility will provide office space for GCDA alongside a classroom, gallery, training kitchen, shop and cafe area.
Construction training organisation Flower Skills has already contributed extensive free labour on the build-out of the unit, to get walls in place and plastered.
Now the charity is appealing to the community and local businesses via a crowdfunding campaign for help in raising £10,000 to complete the fit-out.
“That’s our ambition and it would be fantastic if we can achieve it,” said Claire Pritchard, GCDA director.
“We launched the campaign to our members and the people who have benefited from our work in August, and achieving that total will take us a long way to getting the project finished.
“We’re doing the work in stages – the office space, which was formerly the developer’s marketing suite, will be finished by the end of September, hopefully the kitchen and training room by the end of November and then the shop and cafe space by the end of January.
“In February we should be fully operational.”
The new facility will see GCDA’s Made In Greenwich shop relocate to the new hub and will also allow the organisation to move out of its current premises at Greenwich Centre Business Park.
“The building in Royal Hill is beautiful and we’re really excited about moving from the industrial estate to a place in the heart of Greenwich,” said Claire.
“It will also give us full disability access, which we didn’t have before at either of those two buildings.”
The money from the appeal will go towards decorating and furnishing the various spaces, with fire doors and kitchen units also on the wish list so GCDA can get on with its work – helping support local enterprise, train local people and promote healthy lifestyles.
“We’ll be offering some of our cooking and chef skills training sessions here as well as creative courses such as sewing, hat-making, creative arts, drawing and writing,” said Claire.
“There will also be the business start-up courses, which I run.
“Helping people start their own businesses is so important – there’s a real social benefit to it.
“On the courses, sometimes as many as a third will start their own operations and we can support them in that with things like start-up space on the markets we run to help them de-risk.
“That includes food businesses, street trading and general market trading, for example.
“People come to us for all sorts of reasons – they might want a change of career, have been made redundant or have caring responsibilities that affect what they can do.
“Beyond that, there will also be volunteering opportunities and this will be a great place to volunteer as they will be really supported – there will be up to 10 GCDA staff based in the building so there will always be people around.”
That, in fact, is the other key aim of the new facility.
One of GCDA’s main missions is to bring people together at community hubs – something it already does in Woolwich and Kidbrooke Village.
“A lot of people have said to us they need a centre for the community, a place to hang out and be part of, so this could be a place which local people could enjoy,” said Claire.
“We want to bring everyone together.
“We spent a year working on a project called High Streets For All about West Greenwich – this area – and looking at the markets.
“We found that in come cases local communities feel displaced by change and sometimes they don’t.
“We’ve met people who love living in this historic place and others who say there’s nothing here for them.
“We have always wanted to ensure that our main hub is open to everyone and the move from the industrial unit in Norman Road will mean that we can achieve that goal.
“Moving Made In Greenwich here means we won’t have to subsidise it in commercial premises and can continue to support the artists and makers.
“I’d also love to see local artists using the gallery space we will have.
“We will be able to host more exhibitions in a really beautiful space, perhaps even following our original vision, which was to focus on exhibiting works around things we especially care about such as vulnerable people, property, equality and sustainability as well as challenging the economic system
“Made In Greenwich was always a campaign – to value what is made locally and to support the people who create those products and artworks.
“We’ve had brilliant support with this from Greenwich Council, which commissioned things from us and, more recently, we’ve had talks with The O2 and a local hotel to help drive it forward.
“We discovered that whenever the hotel has special guests, it would buy products specially from Made In Greenwich because there’s that real value in having goods created by artisan makers locally.”
The crowdfunding campaign is ongoing to help raise cash for the project, but Claire said funds were not the only thing needed to help the new hub come to fruition.
“We know that times are extremely tough for people, but even a few pounds will help us make a real difference,” she said.
“In addition, if you have any useful practical skills, then we’d love to hear from you too. We appreciate every contribution.”
Visit GCDA’s website online or via the QR code below for more details of the crowdfunder and how to get involved.
The site also offers full listings for GCDA’s various activities and facilities, such as room hire at its venues and kitchen space.
- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via email@example.com