Coffee Morning goes ONLINE

In more typical times, Friday Coffee Mornings are characterised by a
rush of activity – the smell of coffee brewing; the taste of home-baked
goodies; and the sound of busy chatter. We miss that Friday feeling, a

Now, almost a year since the Pandemic broke into our daily lives,
we have taken the coffee morning on-line in an endeavour to keep the
spirit of Fridays alive until we can meet again together under one roof.

The activity is open to anyone who can access the internet, and Elaine is
here to answer queries about the weekly programme and take you
through the steps that will allow you to join in as we explore our town
and surrounds through the gifts, skills and interests of people living here.

You are very welcome to come, and please do not hesitate to get in

(The online coffee morning has been made possible with financial assistance
from the Integrated Care Fund, administered by Gwent Association
of Voluntary Organisations. The charity is grateful for the new challenges
and opportunities it brings.)

The Charity & Us

Friday Light Lunch

We hope you enjoy these articles and find they give some insight into the life of the old Infant’s School, since becoming a community centre in 2015.    

It may not surprise you to learn that when the Centre opened there wasn’t a plan of action – just conversation, listening and watching as things fell into place. In just a few years, this approach, made together with other residents, has created a multi-purpose, multi-use place where people can participate and engage in ways that suit them.  As it is, the Centre is a place where it’s possible for people to:- host their own activity, function or event; go to somebody else’s; or take part in something that the charity facilitates eg. lunch, coffee morning or lending a hand.  While venues share  similarities, where, perhaps, we do differ is that the community centre is run and managed by a Charity which is interested in everyday matters, and concerned that every person has what they need to thrive – basic needs – like enough food or shelter; feeling safe; being connected; and having meaningful things to do. 

 For some of us, the Centre has become our ‘third place’ which simply means that it’s not home or work.  

Like all businesses the community centre operates within a business model, and in 2016 we started the two-year long process of becoming a registered charity regulated by the Charity Commission.  The Abergavenny Community Trust [Reg. 1177133] adheres to clear operating principles – reporting, monitoring, scrutiny and financial regulation which are essential when managing a building and resources, held in trust, for the benefit of others.  The Charity is overseen by a voluntary Board of Trustees, a Secretary to the Board and a Treasurer) who discharge their collective duties through the Objects (aims & purpose) of the Charity. There are three part-time, paid staff who cook, clean and manage the building together with a small army of people who undertake diverse roles and duties vital for the Centre to open and remain viable. These gifts of time and skills form the beating heart of the charity and make all the difference on the ground.   

While still in lock-down, unable to meet people in ways that we are accustomed to, our focus has returned to the building and grounds and the task of managing their safe-keeping, until such time that our lives return to something more familiar.  In the meantime we’re decorating again, so if you are in a position to help and don’t mind working alone, you are welcome. Thank you.

For this, and anything else please call 07751666481 or [February 2021]

Nurturing – wildlife, people and places

Dec 2020 Tree planting Day
March 2021

There is increasing interest in understanding the power of good that comes from spending time in the natural world, and here at the community centre the small improvements being made to the old school grounds, has exactly this in mind. The Keep Wales Tidy Local Places for Nature project has helped the charity deliver more of its charitable aims by enabling us to realise our long-held ambition, to create spaces which are mutually beneficial to people and to the planet. The wildflower meadow turf is bedding-in and the110 fruiting shrubs and fruit trees are in the earth, preparing to establish over the next few years. This flurry of activity also spurred our desire to do more to protect existing natural habitats, so we have created more ‘wild corners’ for creatures in need of Winter refuge, especially our local hedgehog population which is in steep decline. The centre relies heavily on goodwill to drive these initiatives, and we are grateful to our gardeners and grafters for investing their time, skills and energy in taking care of all of the small things which go on to make a big contribution to the well-being of people and nature. The recent tree planting [see pic of Romy] has drawn our attention back to a new generation of families and entrepreneurs following behind, guiding, and shaping their own future whilst giving us help when they can.  Will you join them?     

Local giving leaves a powerful legacy, and while the world remains in the grip of a pandemic there are still many ways to get behind the small businesses and charities you value, now for the future. The continued financial support of our community was important to us last year with standing orders, one-off donations, promise auction bids and our Christmas raffle ticket purchases making a big difference to our viability while we have been unable to trade. We are very grateful to many, who, over the years have found innovative ways to help.

If last year’s lengthening shadow leaves you feeling more vulnerable than you expect, help is at hand. To join our ‘digital coffee mornings’ please get in touch and we’ll show you how. There’s nothing to lose.

Meanwhile, the Winter Solstice has passed and before too long, talk will return to the hope of Spring, green shoots and new beginnings for all of us.

People & Places

We are  Custodians of a community resource: an asset held in trust by the charity, for the long term benefit of residents living in and around the Welsh market town of Abergavenny. We are community builders and this is the unfolding story of our experience and local involvement in a story where local people have chosen to be active participants in shaping and removing obstacles to [or making ways to access] fundamental things that matter to all of us – food, shelter, health, education, culture, community and care.

Building elevation taking from Park Street

Abergavenny Community Centre resides in the former Park Street Infants School which is nestled in a residential area just a short distance from the town centre. (The Grofield Ward)

After a decade of telling the story and bringing people with us, in 2015 the local authority and the Trust entered into a 3 year lease. In 2019 the process of entering into a 25 year lease began.  

We refer to these first few years since opening as the ‘foundation period’

Over decades, many skilled people have worked voluntarily on the community plan.
Laurie Jones [dec 2014] A true warrior. Laurie’s other legacy is the Community Orchard & Gardens in Mill Street.

Where it began

This flyer was distributed around town in 2005. The questions remain as relevant to the future as they were then, and are now. (NB: When we called upon the Pledges a decade later, we raised £6000 to begin the next phase.
Our ambition was finally realised in 2014 when the County Council agreed to lease the building to the Trust on a short term (3 yr) basis. In 2018 following agreement at a full cabinet meeting the wheels were set in motion for a 25 yr lease on the building & upper grounds.

A Community growing space

Making a safe route 2015

In 2011 the three demountable classrooms had to be demolished. The very first thing we had to do was to create a path of least resistance, a safe walkway from the car park to the door. Then, with little or no money we found ways to adapt and make the demolition site safe for people. With the help of friends from the “Incredible Edibles” movement, we built raised beds where the surface levels varied by several inches, and then we let the magic begin. The enclosed space took shape and form and had some good features – not least to show just how resourceful nature is, despite harsh conditions – but now, a few years later new inspiration, energy and opportunities mean that things are back on the move. Pourous groundcover solutions and better man-made drainage solutions need to be found, so little-by-little please be assured that we are doing the least harm possible as we address the access difficulties, and increase biodiversity on the site at the same time. So whether you come by wheels, with wheels, with two legs or with four we want you to know that we’re doing the best we can to spread limited resources, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has prevented the Centre from opening and trading. Please trust us to do the best thing for all of the users and uses that we know and that we care about.

Our values and behaviour is driven by not having very much, and that means that we’re always having to make the most of what we have, in order to create more from what we do. It’s slow but it means that we don’t over-do it although that’s easier said, than done. Over the years we’ve leaned on kind many, kind contributions and some of these have helped our outdoor spaces to take shape and flourish, and enabled us to grow things that are important to us, but in order for the Trust to move to a place where we can do more for people and more for the natural world, it must start to plan ahead for the long term security of the community growing space. The first priority is to concentrate our green spaces around the boundary of the site – to let it naturalise, and make it possible for other partnerships* to make a contribution, too.

*A space for peaceful reflection has been in the offering for 5 years.


The future is local

In 2010 we held an event on the school car park. We set out our stall, and by using interesting ways to capture your thoughts we asked a lot of questions. Your feedback then, helped to shape and inform the commuity centre, and your presence boosted our determination to push on with the plan to hold onto a community building for future generations.
In 2006 we glimpsed at possibilities in the future
Created in 2010 to show how our daily needs are an inseperable part of the bigger local ‘resilience’ picture, if only we could adapt / adopt different daily practices. The Charity has identified simple ways to include more of us in that ‘food chain’ dilemma and is making it practical and achievable for our combined actions to contribute to a thriving local environment.
Created in 2010 – and still the same plan on the ground, today

Things we did earlier 2007/08

In 2008 we made a film about ourselves

We advertised the film widely and through the local press. Approximately 80 people came to see the film and listen to us as we explained why we felt that ‘community-ownership’ was both necessary, and achievable.

Funding for the film was the combination of private donations and a grant from UNLtd, the social enterprise that supports social entrepreneurs. The film was made by Rob Fairlee supported by Marion Pearse [unltd award winner] and LIz Barnet provided the narative.

It is our hope to relocate the film.

(Posted Feb 2021)