A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit Nunhead Green community centre to have a chat with a few of the users.
We were welcomed by the lovely Sian who explained the current COVID precautions and got us settled with a cup of tea and a biscuit. The centre was buzzing with a distanced chair-based exercise class in full swing with residents even taking part on the lawn, a welcome break and warmth in the COVID climate.
I got chatting to Mary who explained she had been coming here for decades after relocating to Nunhead from Hungary following the war, and had seen changes, both positive and negative over time. She raised her family here and has a strong sense of belonging in the local area.
She told me she had been coming every Thursday for the exercise classes for years, sometimes participating and sometimes not, but just to see friends and familiar faces. She explained she had found COVID very challenging, however was impressed and grateful for the community centre for reaching out and keeping some sense of connection throughout the challenging time.
After the class I spoke another Ivy House guest who also said she regularly attended the centre, but not normally the exercise classes. She reminisces over the old bingo night that no longer took place. When asked about Nunhead and the community, there was initially a sense of sadness. She told me she thought Nunhead was no fun anymore, and she missed the days of a tight knit community. She told me of what fun she had growing up here and how the Old Man of Kent used to be the absolute hub of the area. She lamented that most newbies don’t stay that long and she personally felt the area wasn’t the same for young people nowadays as it was for her.
It seems the work of Sian and Ian, and all the volunteers at The Green, is greatly valued and there is a strong sense of community and friendship here at the centre. They’ve certainly gone to great lengths to keep the residents connected and reduce isolation during these strange times.
Tune into the new podcast to hear more about The Ivy House at The Nunhead Green Community Centre and more local groups and people.