1.0 Summary of Proposal:
The project aims to provide a Community Hub for the village of Ivinghoe. This would be complimentary to existing community facilities such as the Old Town Hall, which now contains the new community library, the transferred Post Office, a new shop, and lavatories, below an upper meeting room and kitchen.
This project meets all of the strategic objectives of the County Council as expressed
in their Corporate Plan:
• Serving the community
• Build & sustain prosperity
• Manage, Improve & Protect Our Exceptional Environment
• Opportunities for all
• Support people who need help
• Promote Community Spirit
There is demonstrable support from the community for the conversion of the building to a Community Hub as evidenced by a petition, ‘pledging’ emails, feedback received at the Ivinghoe Village Fete, and a subsequent house to house questionnaire.
The facility would be of benefit to all members of the Ivinghoe community – however, we feel it would be of particular benefit to the elderly and parents with young children. These members of our community are most likely to suffer isolation caused by living in a rural location, and they are least likely to be able to access facilities elsewhere or engage with others.
Summary of Our Plan
The lovely Victorian Old School on Ivinghoe Village Lawn has fallen into disuse, and there is a local desire for the building to be returned to usefulness, for use by the community of Ivinghoe and also drawing in vulnerable and isolated people, possibly from the outlying – so called – Beacon Villages. A Steering Group has been formed, therefore, and our plan is to create a ‘Fully-Accessible Intergenerational, Interactive Community Hub’, housing a Craft Café, a Community Theatre, a Cookery School, and a ‘Work Hotel’ – run by a ‘not-for-private-profit’ Charitable Trust, allowing any profits to be put back into the Community.
A central Craft Café – ‘CuriosiTEA’ – would allow communing over table-top craft making, which then would lead to conversations, raising memories, forming ‘memory lane’ workshops involving photographs, objects and potential for film making. The Café business would serve all Hub-users, and sandwich lunches to local village businesses, plus refresh pensioners from five villages visiting Ivinghoe Post Office.
Also, Library, Church-users, Shop, Sports people on the village Lawn, families enjoying the adjacent play area on our village Lawn, and parents dropping off children to clubs in this venue and in the Old Town Hall.
We saw immediate potential for a Youth Production Company – ‘Flametree Productions’ – made up of our own and other villages’ school-age children, who currently are able to perform at the Court Theatre, Tring, to use part of our space on some evenings, not only to develop and rehearse its material, but to house the diverse set and prop making, costume design and writing groups that meet regularly in random venues locally elsewhere. From that we foresaw the support that this evening Community and Youth Theatre would lead to intergenerational designing, costumes, props, scenery sets, extending our Café arts, crafts, card-making, jewelery-making, focused on a final play shared with the village – from a possible book loaned from Ivinghoe’s Beacon Villages Community Library, to a play performed on the existing community stage, in Ivinghoe’s Old Town Hall.
A Cookery School based around an existing business – ‘Ivinghomec’ – has asked to be included in the proposals, and they would form ‘The Beacon Villages Community Cookery School’ (BVCCS), which would enhance the locality and attract local villagers – many of whom might be pensioners or single folk in a club-like atmosphere, it would also draw customers from further afield to enable the growth of the business. It is proposed to form links with primary schools in the area – already sounding out the new head of Brookmead School who is interested in the children coming for exciting cookery lessons that satisfy the requirements of the National Curriculum Food Technology category, while offering the opportunity to have fun. We would convert the area behind the school, from where the Post Office was once approached, into a kitchen garden, particularly growing herbs and edible flowers. Again this would provide the opportunity for isolated groups to ‘dig in’ – it would also give the students a chance to see some of their ingredients growing – helped perhaps by the expertise of the older generation.
From the school gate, many young parents – particularly women – congregating to meet their children, have expressed a need for a venue to start or continue small businesses, and to share office facilities. This influx of young entrepreneurs – glass- ceiling aware, combined with those already individually working from home – expressed a need for sharing in a greener initiative, a ‘work hotel’ with safe meeting space, PC screens, printer, copier/scanner – plus skills-share. This we see housed in space previously occupied by Ivinghoe Post Office.
This ‘Skills-Share’ theme should be reflected throughout the project, inspiring volunteers to share their skills also. Under our ‘not-for-private-profit’ umbrella, we see the three Social Enterprises – Café, Theatre and Cookery School – with the self-help ‘Work Hotel’ – working together to provide a dynamic programme, ‘proactive’ and ‘reactive’, changing as the community needs – imaginative entrepreneurial businesses, pivotal and tailored around our community.
The Old Village School – evolved into a Community Hub, would attract the entire community, but is especially geared to isolated villagers – elderly, infirm, young parents and single adult households (see Appendix).