Community Development Co-ordinator: central community centre

21st August 2016


Care in the Community!

Michael Scott and central community centre

Michael Scott and central community centre

Ha! It’s not what you’re thinking.

First though: huge apologies to Michael for taking so bloody long to get round to doing this post. Sometimes life and business ( AA Editorial Services) gets in the way of my desire to write stuff on this blog. It must be a month at least since I talked to him about this. So I’m really sorry. Never mind. I’m here now.

I’ve known Michael Scott for some time now. A few years ago we were both learning ambassadors with Swindon Borough Council. Michael is an actual born Swindonian – one that loves the place I know. I suspect if you cut Michael in half he would, much like a stick of rock, say ‘Swindon’ all the way through.

So I’d be hard pushed to think of a better person to fill this new community development c-ordinator role.

The role is for 2 years – a decent length of time to have an effect – and is funded by the People’s Health Trust.

Here’s a little bit of information about them:

“People’s Health Trust is funded through 51 society lotteries, each designed to raise money to address health inequalities in a separate part of England, Scotland and Wales.The society lotteries operate through The Health Lottery.

Each society lottery donates its good causes money to People’s Health Trust. The money is restricted for spending in specific areas of Great Britain.”

So what’s it all about? 

Michael kindly talked to me at length about this role and his thoughts about it, about Swindon – its past and its future. I recorded it all on my dictaphone for reference and I’ll put in a link to the entire thing so if you feel inclined to listen in you can. But here’s a few points/thoughts that came out of it:

The community centre has a diverse range of users for assorted purposes – probably the broadest in Swindon. The groups using the centre comprise LGBT, Asian, Women’s groups, Men’s groups, a choir, craft, and a restart of the lunch club.

Any group you can think of – it’s here.  Oh – and not forgetting the Penny Readings! 

The area covered by the centre and by this role is as broad as the people using it running roughly from Dean Street, extends to lower bit of town centre, down to Cambria Bridge stopping at Corporation Street (shortly before Broadgreen Community centre’s area) –  so it’s large area to cover. The funding is for a specific area based on need.

The challenge: up until now the focus has been on the railway village – now with the bigger area the focus moves. So it’s about engaging the new wider area with this community centre.

Back to the Future

The things that the Mechanics’ used to do – hasn’t changed in effectiveness. It was directed at the people that needed it then. The aim of this role is to do the same today.

The MIT’s focus is not only on the Mechanics itself but on the Baker’s Arms and the Railway cottage and the hope, indeed the aim, is to get them working as hubs of the community again. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

If there’s 2 things Michael wants to achieve during his tenure in this role it would be this:

  1. Get the community to believe that there’s something on offer for them that they want. He sees this as a chance to understand and know the community – what THEY want rather than what someone tells them they want.
  2. To listen and to engage with other groups across Swindon. To be visible. 

I’m sure we all wish Michael every success with this role. Community is important to us all. And that particular community, that area is so central (in every way) to Swindon it would be wonderful to see it rise from its ashes and become once more what it basically is: the existing heart and cultural centre of our beloved Swindon.

Listen here to Michael talking about this role – with his wonderful young son Salvador asking some rather good questions: Michael Scott community development officer central Swindon  It’s quite long but you can fast forward and what not. 

NB: In the early days of this blog Salvador wrote me stunningly wonderful guest post about why he liked the Museum and Art gallery and Swindon in general. Here it is – Salvador Speaks.

Useful links: 


Central Community Centre

Mechanics’ Institute Trust:

Swindon Civic Voice:



Swindon Civic Voice:

Activities at the community centre:

More from the People’s Health Trust:

‘People’s Health Trust believes in a society without health inequalities. We work to ensure that where you live does not unfairly reduce the length of your life, or the quality of your health.

We do this by investing in people with great ideas to create fairer places to grow, live, work and age. We believe in funding ideas which are small and local and are genuinely designed and led by local people. We target our funds at the neighbourhoods which are the greatest to be affected by health inequalities.

We run three main funding programmes:

  • Active Communities – for great local ideas of between £5,000-£25,000 each year for up to two years. The programme is open in different parts of the country at different times.
  • Local Conversations – an approach which involves working together with the residents of a neighbourhood to determine how they would like to use the money raised through their local society lottery.
  • Local People – a programme through which we fund several larger charities, all of whom work very locally.’