Grovehill Plans a Powerhouse
Editor's inttroduction: This is the introduction to and first page of a document designed to stimulate discussion and decision by the partners engaged in the Grove Hill Community Centre project in 1972. It was written by Graham Jones, at that time Chairman of the Grove Hill and Cupid Green Neighbourhood Association.
The building of Hemel Hempstead's first neighbourhood for people born in the New Town is an excellent opportunity to apply the accumulated lessons of 20 years. In some fields this is already being done. Now, with the planning of the Community Centre, we have a further chance to express our experience of past successes and shortcomings, in a place where people can meet, talk, relax, care and be cared for.
In some ways the concept of community centres as places of recreation has been overtaken by the advance of television and the development of specialist sports. New modes of leisure time learning and the availability of mass media have taken their toll, too, hitting community centre-based evening classes. It is also the case that an enlightened education authority, such as Hertfordshire, has the resources to promote school facilities to the full as alternative bases for adult education and recreation. How tragic that in this situation many of Britain's community centres are forced to rely on bingo and beer.
On the other hand, we are fortunate to be planning a centre at a time of increasing awareness about the inter-relation of people's behaviour, environment and relationships. This has found expression in the establishment of inter-disciplinary social service departments, increased staffing for the youth and community service, and the concept of community care.
What remains is for the initiatives to be matched by action at the grassroots. Where a neighbourhood's community buildings have relinquished a role in recreation and education, the slack can be taken up by using them as bases for social service. A community centre should be a powerhouse of relationships.
Encouraged by imaginative authorities, and five churches making bold strides towards unity in partnership with the community, we have set our sights on Grove Hill on a shared building where this ideal can become reality, and the whole can be greater than the parts.
The aim of this document is to stimulate discussion and decision by the partners engaged in this project.