Church beginning new service as community hub

The historic St Thomas the Martyr Church in Up Holland is beginning to roll out its services for local residents.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 5:54 pm
Some of the volunteers at the new community hub in Up Holland

The place of worship has been undergoing changes as the congregation and local community come together to figure out how it can best serve the needs of people living in the area.

The team is now ready to start the new offers, with a foodbank based at the nearby school now open.

The hub’s post office will then welcome its first customers on Monday March 15.

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The new Post Office counter

Once Covid-19 restrictions are eased the church will also be home to Becket’s Cafe, with hopes for outdoor seating to enable it to get up and running sooner, and a cinema.

It is also hoped green-fingered volunteers will come forward to support the community gardeners who look after the graveyard.

After months of work on the project the imminent arrival of the public at the hub is a highly-anticipated but nerve-racking moment.

Helen Foster from the hub said: “I feel as though we’re on the top of a very high diving board, plucking up the courage to jump off.

Rob Foster and Jean Groves promoting the foodbank

“We’re excited but nervous as well.

“The response so far has been wonderful.”

The post office will be open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm and on Saturdays from 9am until 5pm.

The cafe will then be run by a team including a young woman who has catering qualifications but was bullied in workplaces due to her autism.

The cafe will be opened once Covid-19 restrictions are sufficiently eased

The cafe will also be supplied with vegan treats thanks to Up Holland business Gracious Grub.

All this, though, is just the start, with future plans including art, music and craft groups, concerts, a bereavement group and the relaunch of a baby and toddlers’ group.

A proposal for an internet cafe in the medieval building is also being worked on.

Rector Paul Lock said: “We believe experiences during the pandemic have created a greater sense of community and an awareness of the need to support one another as we gradually come out of the worst of the crisis.

“We want the Hub to bring life, light and hope to our community.

“We want people to be able to build, rebuild, support and share.”

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