Mick’s Garage community house is a unique, informal drop in facility, right in the heart of the East Worthing neighbourhood. Launched by Worthing Homes, in partnership with children’s charity Spurgeons, this popular and successful community project is going from strength to strength. Its immediate future is now secured with a grant for just under £500k from the Big Lottery Fund.

When local residents, Mick and Chriss Smith started a small, youth mentoring activity with a few retired volunteers to engage with bored, young people, little did they imagine how this would evolve into an important community service. “It was with the support of Worthing Homes and Spurgeons that we were really able to develop and grow what we’d begun,” comments Chriss. “At first, Worthing Homes gave us a garage, where we mended and recycled bikes – but we soon found that our kitchen was becoming a favourite drop in place for the local children. Worthing Homes then found us a house and the project now helps a much wider range of people.”

With support from Spurgeons who employ a community worker, Mick’s Garage Community House now offers training, after school activities and volunteering opportunities. It also has valuable IT facilities where children can do their homework and practical resources such as a washing machine.

The Big Lottery Fund grant is the result of months of commitment from the Worthing Homes team and it comes hard on the heels of Mick and Chriss’ News of the World’s Community Champions award, for their work with children in East Worthing.

“All the people involved in this project should be proud. Our team lobbied local suppliers and our board to raise the original £25k to fit out the house, but securing funding for our next five years has given us new energy. Now we have some ambitious targets to achieve, not least of which will be appointing a ‘Business Champion’ and engaging with local employers,” remarks Nicky Fiondella, housing manager, Worthing Homes.

The future of Mick’s Garage Community House will build on existing activities such as the Greenfingers Gardening Club, Crafty Kids and the Community Football tournaments, but will also expand the opportunities for volunteering, links with local businesses, one-to-one mentoring and launch a users forum, host open days and employ a project manager to co-ordinate the expanding activities.

“Worthing Homes is delighted with the grant offer from the Big Lottery. This will enable us to expand the project with our partners Spurgeons and offer a wider range of key services to satisfy local, regional and national strategies. Offering a safe, unique and informal base with a focus on holistic service provision, will foster positive attitudes and a culture of respect. Increased access to training and development will give people better chances in life and improve their life skills. This in turn, will help Worthing to be a stronger and sustainable community where people want to live and work,” comments Nicky.

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