Community hub launces at The Lighthouse Centre in Ely offering free support to vulnerable people

PUBLISHED: 12:42 01 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:42 01 March 2017

Visitors, volunteers and agency representatives at the launch of Ely's community hub in The Lighthouse Centre. PHOTO: Martyn Jolley.

Visitors, volunteers and agency representatives at the launch of Ely's community hub in The Lighthouse Centre. PHOTO: Martyn Jolley.

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A new community hub has opened in Ely offering vulnerable people a “safe place to visit and access advice”.

Sarah Burton, housing officer at East Cambs District Council (second left), Angela Parmenter, housing and community safety manager at East Cambs District Council and Giles Cornell, pastor at The Lighthouse Centre, at the launch of Ely's new community hub. PHOTO: Martyn Jolley. Sarah Burton, housing officer at East Cambs District Council (second left), Angela Parmenter, housing and community safety manager at East Cambs District Council and Giles Cornell, pastor at The Lighthouse Centre, at the launch of Ely's new community hub. PHOTO: Martyn Jolley.

The hub inside The Lighthouse church, which opens every Tuesday from 11am until 2pm, will offer local people the chance to talk about any worries they may have.

Each week there will be representatives from local agencies including East Cambridgeshire District Council’s housing team, Citizens Advice Bureau, Red 2 Green, Inclusion, Christians Against Poverty, CHS Floating Support and Centre 33, will be available for one-to-one chats about housing and debt problems, alcohol and drug misuse, mental health and domestic violence, among other problems.

Sarah Burton, housing officer at East Cambridgeshire District Council, came up with idea for the hub, which she says has “steamrolled so fast.

“I came up with the hub because there are more and more vulnerable people coming in the Lighthouse Centre for assistance.

“But it’s not just a homelessness thing – it’s about the whole package.

“We want to reach out to vulnerable people in the community. There’s never just one issue – there are always underlying issues that people are dealing with all at the same time.

“Everyone in Ely and the surrounding areas knows the Lighthouse Centre, and because we already work with the agencies there was no hesitation.”

To help gut the hub off to a good start, Tesco is donating hot meals, whilst volunteers from organisations like CHS Young People’s project, Ely Job Centre and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau will offer their time.

Giles Cornell, pastor at The Lighthouse Centre, said: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and show their support.

“I think it’s a really well-needed project and could be brilliant.

“We have people come in for different reasons, and we knew that were was an immediate need for ongoing support because Ely Foodbank delivered more than 700 parcels in 2016 alone.

“One of the guys who usually comes here for help has asked if he can volunteer with the hub, which is really great.”

Angela Parmenter, housing and community safety manager at East Cambs District Council, said: “They could come five times and just have a cup of tea and a chat and it would still be progress.

“Because we’re all here, the people who use the hub can’t fall through the net.

“After six to eight months, we hope to roll the hub out to other areas in East Cambs – we’ve already found a venue in Soham.”

Councillor Mike Rouse, housing service delivery champion, said: “This group was created because many of the problems people face are not simple, straight-forward or singular.

“This community hub aims to bring partner agencies together to work cohesively to address these problems in a more unified way.

“It also provides a safe space for the community to access information and have a chat with a friendly face over a cup of tea.”

The program will operate under the Luv Ely Charity.

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