Calne in Tune stated their activities in 2013. In 2015 a handful of Musicians, Artists & Crafters at Calne in Tune decided they needed a Music Arts & Crafts Centre in Calne to collaborate in creative activities and encourage the young and people of all ages and abilities in the wider Calne area.
They looked for an appropriate space and found that all Youth Centres were gradually getting closed down. They were not meeting the needs and interest of the young people of today. There were no central Community Centres where they could fully operate from, to provide a broad range of Facilities and Services, 24/7.
They decided the centre of Calne needed a Youth & Community Centre where any Community Group could operate cheaply, spreading the costs. Community facilities were far too divided and too expensive for each group to be able to get premises of their own, only to use a couple of days a week.
They first looked at the old Priestley Grove Youth Centre and put in a bid to take it over, repair and refurbish it themselves (many of our members are in the building trades) and set it up as a Music, Arts & Crafts based Youth & Community Centre. The plan was rejected by Wiltshire Council at the time.
Not going to give up, in 2020 the opportunity became available to hire the old FM Furniture store at 20 Church Street, Calne. They approached the developers (Stibbard Properties) about the possibility of renting the building while plans were being considered for its development (it is now up for sale.)
Andrew Stibbard was in the process of getting development permissions and agreed to allow them to hire it on a 3-month rolling basis at temporary advantageous rent, with an option to purchase at an advantageous price.
They moved in over February 2020, installed donated furniture, music and computer equipment and opened to the public by the end of the month. They called it Calne Central Music; Arts & Crafts based Youth & Community Centre.
“We first kicked off with the Music, Arts and Crafts activities and used the Centre as a base from which to go out to our various Music, Arts and Crafts Venues around Calne Town and across Wiltshire,” explains organiser Terry Couchman.
“We set up an Arts & Crafts Window Display and decided to include Trade Crafts in our Brief. Our walls and shelves were prepared for Artwork and Crafted good of all kinds and we fitted out a Music Practice Room and a Performance Space.”
“We, at last, had somewhere where we could encourage local people of all ages and abilities (and disabilities) to engage in any creative and recreational activities. We were also able supplement our Calne in Tune and Calne Community Hub volunteers with further Community Volunteers to help run the place as an integrated Youth & Community Centre. Slowly people began to come through our doors, just as the Covid Lockdown started.”
Calne in Tune now works with Community Service Charity ‘Heart of the Community’. This is an organisation which brings individual volunteers & community groups together to run Calne Central and provide the wider Community Service.
“We are now a ‘Community Hub’,” Terry continues, “supporting any group that wants to join us in the building itself, use our facilities to promote itself, or provide equipment and volunteer assistance for their events and activities.”
“Giving Birth is painful enough without the challenges, frustrations, and stresses of feeling trapped and restricted in our movements. Part of our commitment was towards encouraging people who are variously disabled, those with mental health challenges, the lonely, isolated, and disaffected.”
“We knew from years of common experience how important Music, Arts and Crafts (of all kinds) benefit people naturally and therapeutically. Sharing these experiences together proved even more beneficial. That remains our main focus for trying to meet all community needs.”
“We decided that that we were doing was far too important to simply shut down for the duration of the emergency. With the help of increasing numbers of Volunteers and the involvement of Calne Men’s Shed, Calne Community Hub and others, we opened fully, 6 days a week 10-6 and provided access every evening and all weekend for Creative and Essential Community Support activities.”
“Our Volunteer group grew and through the painful process of any birth, we established enough support to spread the load a little. With the encouragement and funding from Calne Town Council, Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Community Foundation, and other generous donors, we remained open, including throughout two lockdowns.”
“We continued to provide our usual Music Arts & Craft Exhibitions & Showcases when we could. People can still come in to practice as individuals and we expanded our Community Activities to include service like the 24/7 Community Fridge & Larder and the Community Café.”
“We also dedicated ourselves to re-cycling, taking in disused Bikes, Microwaves, Kettles, Irons, Computers TV’s, DVD’s CD, Books, even the odd fridge, washing machine and furniture, to refurbish and sell on at affordable prices.”
“The Bicycle sales and services became a major income generator, and we became popular for kids to pop in to get their biked made safe and do small repairs for free. This was another valid reason for us remaining open throughout lockdowns.”
Not everyone was happy though and there was to be more pain to come. There have been a small number of “petty jealousies, bogus complaints and unfair criticisms” of the volunteers and the fact the Centre remained ‘legitimately’ open.
Some of these were personally abusive and slanderous. Terry said, “we survived all this though, and we are still open and have just enough to get us through to July this year. We will be seeking more Funding but we hope that we can now start to generate a bit more income for ourselves as we come out of lockdown.”
“As I keep reminding people, in terms of our community facilities. ‘Use it or Lose It (Don’t Abuse It)’. That was our mantra since the beginning.”
A Youth & Community Centre’s only has a chance in the long-term is when people work together, as a team, in inclusive and diverse ways that are ‘Enabling and Empowering’ for all. People need to speak up for what they need and then seek to protect what they have for everyone’s benefit.
“There is no room for Superior Egos within Community Services,” Terry continued, “we all make an important contribution, according to our skills, means, interests and the time available outside our family and work lives.”
“We’ve demonstrated that working together, appreciating each contribution, with mutual tolerance and understanding, is the only way to succeed and grow, without getting too big for our boots.”
Part of providing a Youth & Community Space is to ensure it remains safe, adaptable and accessible, with enough volunteer contribution and assistance from the members of the community that use it and benefits from it. “There is no room for those who would seek to undermine, disrupt or in any way distress those who provide the services or use them. Such actions will be (and must be) confronted.”
They now need to review the first year of operation and find ways to fund it through the rest of the year. Meanwhile, there is an opportunity to buy the current building at a very advantaged price.
Terry said, “we know we can renovate the building ourselves. We will be conducting a survey of all our members, volunteers and users looking an option for the purchase of the building.”
The fundraising effort can be found on Facebook here; please don’t let Calne lose this important facility.
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