Hogarth Community Centre reopened on Monday 22 June and welcomed the first group of young people through its doors, having been closed for three months during lockdown.
Hogarth Community Centre runs a youth programme that provides activities and support for young people ranging from age eight to 21. They provide opportunities for ‘young people to both socialise and develop’ through a range of activities such as sports, arts and crafts, multimedia workshops and cooking.
Young people ‘excited’ to return
Fred Lucas, the Chair of the Hogarth Charitable Trust, said: “After three months without the sound of young people on the premises, it is a joy to hear the buzz of excited voices.”
The Centre Manager, Eilis, told the Chiswick Calendar that the kids were “very excited” to return to the centre and be reunited with the youth leaders, having spent most of the summer so far confined to their homes.
The youth team have been in touch with many of the kids and their parents in order to provide support during lockdown. Eilis said that they have a very close relationship.
“Before lockdown a lot of these children attended the Centre weekly, so they missed the youth leaders a lot”.
Some parents, however, are nervous about sending their children back to the Centre.
The Centre is undergoing a gradual reopening “to ensure that all necessary health and safety precautions are in place”. They will be following social distancing and ‘working in bubbles’ to minimise risk to both the staff and young people who attend the Centre. They have also done a deep clean of the centre and installed hand sanitisers in all areas.
Senior Youth Worker, Denny, said that keeping the children and the community safe is their top priority.
Denny stressed the importance of the scheme for young people in Chiswick.
“I know Chiswick is surrounded by a lot of wealth but there are pockets of deprivation and people really need support.
“It is easy to walk through Chiswick and see the million pound houses but sometimes you have to look deeper than that.”
He expressed concerns about the long term impact of lockdown on both obesity rates and the mental health of young people.
“As adults we can compartmentalise our feelings but young people aren’t geared up for that yet.”
Tyra Mills is one of the youth leaders at Hogarth Community Centre.
“When I first started coming to Hogarth, I was very quiet and shy and didn’t really speak to a lot of people. Then I became a volunteer and got involved with doing circle time and doing group games, playing football and chatting to other kids”.
She says that going to the Community Centre has taught her time management, organisation and adaptability.
Lockdown restrictions impact funding for the centre
Throughout lockdown, the centre has relied on funding from the Friends of the Hogarth and a “generous” donation of £500 from the Glebe Estate Residents’ Association. When it was forced to close, the Hogarth Community Centre lost a key part of its funding, which it got from license fees and renting the space. The Centre predicts that, due to lockdown restrictions, their income from licence fees this year will be less than half what it was in 2019.
The Centre has been struggling for cash ever since London Borough of Hounslow announced that over a period of transition, it would have to become self-funding and although the Centre won a £7,500 grant from LB Hounslow earlier in the year, the payment has been delayed until later in the summer.
Fred, the Chair of the Hogarth Charitable Trust, says they are “determined to rebuild their full programme” and “achieve even more than before”.
For more information about The Hogarth Community Centre, see hogarthtrust.org.uk.