Since it opened on the 1st September, 2018, the Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre has already established its reputation as being a hive of activity within Bicester. Boasting 5 separate interior spaces, which include a large sports hall, 2 board rooms and 2 multi-purpose rooms used by a variety of local groups, this community hub is a lively centre with constant activity.
A hub that welcomes all walks of life, the Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre is enjoyed by Kingsmere’s residents as well as those who live in Bicester and its surrounding villages.
Carla Wilson, one of the Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre Directors, highlights what makes the Centre so special: “Without a doubt, the variety of different events and activities we host is what sets us apart. In addition to hosting common types of groups who might organise an aerobics class, we also host toddler and play groups, martial arts teams, conferences, dance troupes, Women’s Initiative (WI) events and many groups of different religious faiths. Everyone is welcome here and it’s great to see people with different interests and beliefs socialising and sharing experiences”.
Among the groups that use the Centre the most are a Muslim reading group, a musical theatre group called Spotlights, two dance groups, a bridge club and a puppy training school. There are also a number of charities that use the Centre’s facilities and one of these is the Bicester Baby Bank, which provides unwanted baby items to low-income and vulnerable families within Bicester and beyond.
Debbie Clack, a trustee of the Bicester Baby Bank praises the centre as being the heart of their operations: “Having a place like the Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre has been a huge help for the work we do. The flexible and long opening hours, which are from 9 am to 10 pm, means that more people are able to deliver more baby clothes throughout the day, boosting our results massively and maximising our ability to help those who need it most.”
In addition to hosting charities, the Centre has also become a second home to a number of mental health organisations. It has also used some of the funding it has received to host intergenerational events, where children, adults and grandparents alike can get together to socialise and have tea.
Vicky Hodgins, who is also a Director at the Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre, says: “While entertainment and leisure is certainly a key part of what we do here, it’s also very important for us to use the amazing space we have here to deliver social good as well. The best thing about the Centre is the huge potential it has and the concept that the space is what you decide to make of it.”
Looking ahead, Clara and Vicky are united in their belief that the centre is “going from strength to strength”. They also hope to maintain the buzz around the significant variety of activities and events they host every day at the Centre. For this purpose, they are keen to use the café to host more drop-ins throughout the week where people can come and learn more about what the Centre has to offer.
Health and safety is also a top priority. One of the developers at Kingsmere, CALA Homes, recently donated an adult and pediatric defibrillator to the Centre, meaning that the staff are now also trained on how to use these if necessary. This also means that the Centre now hosts the only defibrillator in the development.
The lead developer at Kingsmere is Countryside. Andrew Carrington, Director of Countryside Properties (Bicester) Limited, says: “The Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre is a fantastic facility which the residents and local community can enjoy. In the short time since its opening, it’s remarkable to see how much success the Centre has had in terms of bringing the residents of Kingsmere and Bicester closer together. The Centre has not only established itself as a place for entertainment and leisure, but also as an important social hub for local charities and organisations that are supporting the most vulnerable in the wider Bicester community.”
He then adds: “This is a testament to the great work being done by Vicky, Carla, and the rest of the team, who are giving up their time to make the Centre a success.”
As it continues its vital work of bringing the community closer together, the Centre will continue being a important centrepiece in Kingsmere. Since its establishment, it has allowed Kingsmere to take a step forward in positioning itself as a place where its residents, along with the wider town of Bicester, can experience the true meaning of community.
If you would like to find out more about all the centre has to offer, have interest in utilising some of its space, or want to find out more about the groups and activities occurring, visit their website at https://www.kingsmerecc.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also give Vicky and Carla a ring anytime on 0333 555 6789.
Some of the brands and groups that currently use the Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre include: Bicester Camera Club, Chesterton Junior Football Club, Rugby Tots, Women’s Initiative, Perfect Puppies and Little Kickers, among others.