The users and staff at vital community centre in an area of north Bristol have received a welcome funding boost thanks to support from Grundon Waste Management.
The Lockleaze Youth and Play Space – known locally as The Vench – on Romney Avenue has now a new accessible entrance ramp, sunken trampoline, a pizza oven, essential groundworks and a hot water system.
The works follow £35,000 of grants from Grundon, which is based in St Phillips in South Bristol, to the centre’s management company Groundwork South, administered under the Landfill Communities Fund.
Together the improvements have made the vital community centre more accessible for elderly users and children, with the trampoline proving a particular hit with younger visitors.
Lisa Jimenez, centre manager for youth and play at The Vench, lives in Lockleaze and has been involved in running the centre for more than 20 years. She now brings her son to play at the centre she enjoyed using as a girl.
“The trampoline’s so popular that we’ve had to set up a timing system so that everyone gets a go on it,” she said. “Because it’s sunk into the ground it’s accessible for all the children, including those with disabilities, so it’s a great addition.
“More widely, The Vench is massively important to this community. We’re in the process of planning our 50thbirthday and we have people in their 60s and 70s coming here who say they used the centre when they were much younger.
“For the youngsters it’s a great place for confidence building, for understanding and taking acceptable risks, for making friends, for building relationships with staff they can trust if they don’t feel confident going anywhere else, and us just being able to keep an extra eye on this children who might need some additional support.
“We’re even getting some interest from the children in how the centre is run and financed, so it’s an opportunity to provide some early business education as well.
“Of course it’s changed massively over the years but the core function is still the same – community cohesion and a place for young people to find their confidence in life. Without the funding we receive from local organisations, businesses and income from our own space, the centre couldn’t even exist.”
John Phelps, operations manager at the Bristol office of Grundon Waste Management, said: “We are delighted that these installations are complete and that we can see the transformative effect they have had on The Vench.
“Our work aims to make the community centre safer and more financially and environmentally sustainable so that it can continue working to support children and young people in Lockleaze to live happy and healthy lives.
“The specific items requested in this project align with Grundon’s own social and environmental aims, to develop spaces and activities that help to improve deprived communities and bring tangible benefits to the environment.
“As a company we have a longstanding relationship with Groundwork South having supported their projects around the south of England. It’s good to be able to bring our support to Bristol and we look forward to helping other communities which can benefit from our relationship.
Iulia Manolescu, operations manager at The Vench, said: “We are of course incredibly grateful to Grundon Waste Management for their support. We have a thriving, passionate team here but securing funding is competitive and hard work, so we can’t thank Grundon enough for their help.
“In practice, the new hot water tank will have a huge impact on our energy bills and the speed with which we can manage the kitchen, and the pizza oven is a lovely addition.
“Most important however is the new accessibility ramp at the front, which gives our elderly and disabled visitors the confidence to come in and benefit from our food club which played such as massive role during Covid and continues to help local people during the cost of living crisis.”