On Tuesday, 30 September, Bishop Ralph Heskett CSsR, officially opened and blessed the new Neighbourhood Centre at Cantley, Doncaster. The Neighbourhood Centre is an enterprise which has resulted from the efforts and prayers of parishioners of St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church on nearby Goodison Boulevard.
It is based at St Wilfrid’s Court, close to Cantley Library on Goodison Boulevard, Cantley, Doncaster. It provides a much-needed facility for people living in Cantley, Bessacarr and neighbouring districts. It is managed and run by trained and supervised volunteers from nearby St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church. It opens between 10am and 2pm on five days each week, Tuesdays to Saturdays, and offers services to help local people to cope with the challenges faced by so many in the current climate of financial constraints and social need.
Bishop Ralph was welcomed to the Neighbourhood Centre by Fr Bernard O’Brien, Parish Priest at St Paul’s. Also present were Deacons Bill Taylor and Chris Kime from St Paul’s Parish and a number of clergy from other local Churches. The opening was also attended by local Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP and by the Civic Mayor of Doncaster, Councillor Pat Haith, who both made speeches of appreciation to the Parish and to all the volunteers. Local Councillors were in attendance as were a good number of parishioners and friends of the Neighbourhood Centre.
A number of the volunteers who help to run the Neighbourhood Centre were also present – including some who are not parishioners but are still willing to give their time to help. Several of the skilled tradesmen who had given of their time and energy to help to repair and decorate the premises to make them suitable for purpose had also accepted invitations to the opening, and were thanked for their contribution by Fr O’Brien.
The Bishop conducted a short service of blessing at the Neighbourhood Centre to mark its official opening, sprinkling Holy Water liberally around the Centre, and seemingly taking some pleasure in splashing the attendant crowd, including distinguished guests!
The opening ceremony was followed by refreshments prepared by members of the Parish Ladies’ Group, in nearby St Paul’s Parish Hall. Bishop Ralph had a chance to meet parishioners, volunteers and friends of St Paul’s Church over a cup of tea and delicious cakes.
The Neighbourhood Centre has been in operation since June, 2014 and is proving popular with local people who are very happy to have a place where they can come for a friendly chat and some companionship over a cup of tea, with the opportunity to buy clothing and other household items at very affordable prices.
Several individuals have availed themselves of the opportunity to seek informed, confidential advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau trained staff who attend the Neighbourhood Centre each week. ‘Wellbeing’ staff are also available to provide information and advice on health matters and members of the Council Neighbourhood Team also attend the Centre weekly to meet with clients. It is anticipated that in the future there will be other services available at the Neighbourhood Centre, including advice for those seeking employment on how to fill in application forms and how best to prepare for job interviews.
Parish Priest, Fr Bernard O’Brien said, “We are honoured that Bishop Ralph is taking time out of his busy schedule to come and preside over the official opening of the Neighbourhood Centre. This is a much needed facility for anyone who needs help or advice – or even someone who just wants a cup of tea and a bit of companionship. People have the chance to buy good quality, affordable clothes and anyone with serious financial or other worries can discuss problems with Citizen Advice Bureau volunteers. People can also receive health and lifestyle advice from the Wellbeing members, or bring issues to the attention of the Council Neighbourhood Team who attend the Centre each week.”
Further information may be obtained by contacting the Chair of the Parish, Dr Emyr Wyn Jones on 07711 922663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.