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Surrey's unemployed and homeless help to transform Byfleet day centre

3 minute read
Surrey's unemployed and homeless help to transform Byfleet day centre

Published by Lettie Buxton at 6:00am 16th July 2020.

Surrey's long term unemployed, including the homeless community, are working with a Surrey-based community interest company to transform a day centre in Byfleet.

St Mary’s Centre for the Community is being renovated into a modern tea room, scenic garden and modern space for local residents of all ages.

Working alongside Woking Borough Council, and the borough’s homeless shelter, York Road Project, Barnabas Fresh Start CIC is undertaking the three month build project, while helping to provide those who are unemployed or homeless with training, skills and support.

Fresh Start 2

Mark Richmond, director at Barnabas Fresh Start, told Eagle Radio about who has been helping them:

"To name a few, we've had some Nepalese doctors who are just about to join the NHS, they've given some of their time.

"We've had some people I've worked on different schemes with in the borough, they've come to rejoin.

"It's been absolutely amazing.

"I think the big draw for us as a charity is that we always look for an angle that gets us excited.

"After the lockdown, obviously we're still in the process of coming out of that, but I think it will be an amazing space for people to meet their friends again."

Working with the council, Woking Community Transport have been taking people daily to work on the project from Woking to Byfleet.

The work has been able to continue during the coronavirus pandemic, with additional safety measures in place.

Councillor Simon Ashall, Woking Borough Council’s portfolio holder for centres for the community said:

"With volunteers from York Road Project receiving invaluable training that could help them find future employment, this community-led initiative is a model project that I hope others will look to follow.

"I would like to thank Fresh Start, all the staff and volunteers from York Road Project and Octagon’s generosity in making this happen.

"Also Woking Community Transport, which has been ferrying people to work in Byfleet every day.

"I’m sure staff at the centre are looking forward to welcoming users back to a new-look St Mary’s when it’s safe to do so."

The project, which Mark said is set to be completed in the next four to five weeks, will include transforming the large main hall inside into a contemporary tea room with indoor seating, while a pergola strewn with climbing plants is being erected outdoors.

The team have been recycling timber and other build materials from the nearby Broadoaks Park development by Octagon, visiting the working site once a week to collect what they need to renovate the centre.

Tim Banks, chief executive officer of Octagon, said they are "delighted" to be supporting the project, adding it is a "fantastic initiative and one we are very proud to be part of".

Listen to Mark's interview in full here: