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Happy birthday to us!

Congratulations to the Melbourn Hub, which opened at the beginning of February 2014, now marking its sixth birthday!

The last six years have seen the Hub become a crucial and much-loved centre of village life, not just for residents of Melbourn but also many others from nearby communities. So we thought we would have a little look and all the benefits the Hub brings to Melbourn and how lucky we are to have it.

The original vision of the Melbourn Hub was to provide a rich mix of services and opportunities not just for residents, but also for local organisations, charities and the many businesses in the area. This vision has been fulfilled. The Hub is registered Charity itself, whose charter is simply to deliver benefits to the local area.

At a basic level, the Hub offers a destination to drink coffee or tea, or to have lunch with friends. More and more people are making this a regular part of the daily routine – footfall in the Bookmark Café increases steadily and has doubled in the last three years. It is particularly satisfying to see the many people, old and young alike, who find the welcoming atmosphere just the lift they need. The Café serves home-cooked food from a Five Star rated kitchen, between 9.00am to 4.00pm every day except Sunday.

The Hub Library is also a significant asset, and many visitors combine book borrowing with a chance to catch up with the gossip and have a cuppa! The Library has also seen a major increase in membership since the Hub opened, with particular interest from children and young people. Melbourn is lucky to still have a permanent library service, something now missing from most rural communities.

Another benefit of the Hub is to promote and support a variety of services that would otherwise be absent or only available by travelling some distance. Among these are Relate, MIND, and Citizens Advice, all of which offer regular sessions that are accessible by booking through the Hub Reception. There are also plans to include outreach health-related services in the near future in partnership with local healthcare providers.

Many charities and local organisations use the Hub for meetings and training, such as HomeStart, NSPCC, Mobile Wardens and the East of England Ambulance Service. Special ‘community’ room hire terms are available for all local organisations that operate on a non-profit basis, and this aspect of the business has become central to our mission as a charity.

The Hub offers a number of serviced rooms, some with air conditioning, which can be booked with catering and other business support. The demand for room hire has prompted Hub management to look for ways of expanding room capacity. We hope to make this aspiration a reality in 2021.

An important side effect is a mix of work and volunteering opportunities that result from having this busy facility in the centre of the village. The Hub employs part time and full time staff, together with a large number of volunteers. Work experience students frequently supplement our loyal crew; this close association with young people is a vital link that is valued by both the Hub and the Melbourn Village College.

Nurture of much-needed and missing aspects of social care support is something we are proud of. This can be exampled by the recent Hub partnership with Dementia Friends, resulting in a now regular Dementia Friends Café event that is held once a month at the Hub. This initiative has become very successful indeed, demonstrating the gap that exists in providing for those with dementia and particularly those who are carers. The benefits arising from the opportunity to informally meet in a safe environment, in common with others living through dementia, cannot be overstated.

The Community Hub has also become the centre for many regular events that track the passage of each year. Often with the help of the Melbourn Fête Committee regular Craft Fairs and the summer Community Showcase give an opportunity for the village to come together and enjoy a festival of music and perhaps a glass or two. Turn on to Christmas is now the place to be at the beginning of December to mark the holiday to come. Local artists are queuing up to exhibit at the Hub, with a new display every month. Other one-off events are also not to be missed; for example, Megson, the Melbourn-based folk duo is putting on a double concert for families and children in March this year – don’t miss it!

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