Town's community hub celebrates successful first year of support

Cllr Caroline Topping has started Beccles Community Hub, Caroline is pictured with Charlie Nevitt.
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Councillor Caroline Topping with building owner Charlie Nevitt outside Beccles Community Hub - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A town's community hub has celebrated a successful first year of support.

Beccles Community Hub, on Blyburgate, is coordinated by Suffolk County Councillor Caroline Topping and was set up to meet a need for local community support.

During the first national coronavirus lockdown, Mrs Topping was one of the members who set up the Covid Recovery Response which included shopping for people in isolation, collecting prescriptions and a befriending service.

The community hub is a continuation of this previous volunteer-led service, as Beccles used to be the only town in the area without a dedicated centre.

Mrs Topping said: "So many wonderful groups have supported us by providing much-needed funding for operating expenses, including East Suffolk Council's Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth Community Partnership, Suffolk Connected Communities, Beccles Townland Trust, Limbourne Trust, Community Action Suffolk, and groups like the Bahá’í Faith and Rotary Club, who have raised money for the hub.

"We also like to express our gratitude to councillor Barry Darch, the current mayor of Beccles, for including us in his annual Mayors Appeal."

Cllr Caroline Topping has started Beccles Community Hub.
One of the groups using a room in the build

Cllr Caroline Topping has started Beccles Community Hub. One of the groups using a room in the building. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The hub has now refined its offer and while one of the most important aspects is their volunteers signposting visitors to other organisations and services, they also help many who are currently struggling with the cost of living crisis by providing them with essentials through their Bring and Take scheme. 

Cllr Caroline Topping has started Beccles Community Hub,
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Cllr Caroline Topping has started Beccles Community Hub, Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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Mrs Topping said: "We carried out a very successful Christmas Jumper swap last year and have got a wonderful collection of children’s dressing up clothes, glamourous ball or prom dresses and smart wear including suits, shirts and ties for those who may need more formal wear for a job interview. 

"At this time of financial squeeze on our income, every little initiative that can help we are interested in providing.

"We try not to duplicate any other service that is available in the town and are very pleased to be working with St Lukes Uniform Bank, Foodbank and Beccles Library."

The Community Hub are also working with One Life Suffolk to carry out health checks, with the Pear Tree Foundation offering an outreach service and Access Community Trust starting monthly wellbeing drop ins.