The time has come to announce the finalists for this year's Baxi Commercial Division Community Challenge, the winner of which will receive a brand new hot water and heating system. After reading through a variety of very worthy entries, our judging panel had some difficult decisions to make. However, a shortlist has now been drawn up. Read on to find out more about each of our three finalists...
The Apton Centre This single story community building is run by the charity Age Concern Bishop's Stortford to provide a social environment for people 55 plus. Supported by over 30 volunteers from the local community, including drivers who transport service users, the aim is to reduce isolation, improve physical and mental health and help the elderly to stay in their own homes for as long as is possible. In a recent survey over 80% reported that their attendance helped in these ways. As well as the various activities provided, a two course nutritious meal is made available by a local caterer.
The building has been used by this organisation since the mid 1970s and, despite having the heating and hot water system serviced annually, it is not economical or environmentally friendly. A recent emergency call out resulted in a £200 repair bill, as well as a recommendation to replace the boiler as soon as possible since it now has a limited life. This is a critical situation because without heating or a hot water system it would not be possible to run the services. This would leave approximately 70 elderly people without a meeting place.
In addition, this centre supports other community groups which hire the building on a regular basis, including the Brownies, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alzheimer's Group, Herts Mind Network and Actability, as well as some others less frequently. All would benefit from a new heating and hot water system which would protect the services of this centre long into the future. Hardingstone Village Hall, Northampton Built in 1866 as a Victorian School, the village hall has two large function rooms plus toilets and kitchen and is situated in its own grounds on The High Street at the heart of the old part of Hardingstone village.
A registered charity, it is run by a committee of volunteers made up of users and residents with the aim of providing a well maintained multicultural building for the use of the entire local community to hire for functions and social activities. Regular users include the local amateur dramatics group, Mums N Tots, WI fitness classes, dancing classes, computer class, music sessions for tots, disabled yoga classes, camera club and some larger groups like NHS Sure Start and National Childbirth Trust.
When the building was taken over from the County Council by the Hardingstone Village Hall Association in 1997, considerable funds were raised to complete its refurbishment, including new radiators. Hot water is provided by point of use heaters but funds did not run to a replacement boiler. Now over 20 years old, it is not only unreliable, with spare parts becoming difficult to source, but also its efficiency is very poor which results in large energy bills.
A more modern boiler that would allow the heating system to be zoned would considerably reduce running costs, as all areas of the building are not used at the same time.
Mossley Scouts & Guides. These troupes, together with Cubs & Brownies, Beavers and Rainbows accounting for approximately 150 boys and girls aged 5 to 14 have, since 1989, held their meetings in a former Boys' Club. This three story Accrington brick building, originally a public house and now renamed Baden House, is used for meetings and activities from Monday to Thursday each week and a youth theatre group utilises it on Friday evenings and at weekends. Subscriptions to this movement of Scouts, Guides, etc. are kept as low as possible to encourage the participation of children from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible and all committee members, leaders and helpers are volunteers.
Situated in Mossley, a former mill town on the outer edge of Greater Manchester, straddling the borders of Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire, this building has over the years required much fundraising in the local community to repair the roof, replace windows, install central heating and rewire the building. A new kitchen is now being built and new toilets (including disabled facilities) and showers have just been fitted, initially with only a cold water supply.
A new water heater would provide hot water to the wash basins and showers and to the sinks in the new kitchen, when completed. Learning to prepare and cook food is an important activity for all ages in the Scout and Guide sections, whilst supervised sleepovers for the younger members and outdoor activities for the older ones would be greatly enhanced by a reliable supply of hot water. It could also make possible further fundraising events within the building, which would provide some extra income to help with the upkeep of Baden House.
The 2012 Community Challenge competition winner will be announced in September.
For reader enquiries please contact:
Rebecca Johnson, Head of Marketing UK & Ireland
Baxi Commercial Division, Wood Lane, Erdington,
Birmingham B24 9QP
Tel: 0845 070 1055
Fax: 0845 070 1059