Impington Village College students will be running weekly IT drop-in sessions in the Autumn term to help people who would like some help setting up their laptop, tablet, smartphone, email, Skype etc. This is a way for students to engage with the community as part of their studies, and could be of particular value to those who may not have experience of setting these things up for themselves.
I got involved after learning that the programme was at risk due to lack of a venue, and had some productive meetings with representatives of the school, council officers, and the Histon & Impington Older Persons Co-ordinator.
One idea for a venue was the Communal Room at one or more of the Sheltered Housing sites in the villages. The snag with this was that use of these rooms for non-residents is chargeable, albeit at a very reasonable hourly rate, and IVC did not have a budget to cover this. The District Council agreed to cover the cost, and the sessions will be run at St Audrey’s Close.
This is an excellent scheme which will provide practical help to members of the community and promote social cohesion across the generations, and I am delighted that the District Council has been able to help. I am sure it will be a great success and look forward to seeing the students in action.
Sessions will run on most term-time Wednesdays from 2.30 to 3.30pm. Additional venues may be announced in due course. For more details please contact Jean Newman, H&I Older Persons Co-ordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gaynor Russell at IVC (GRussell@ivc.tmet.org.uk)
Future of the Communal Rooms
It’s good to see this community use of a communal room. Across South Cambs there are 44 sheltered housing schemes, 41 of which have a communal room. These are primarily for use as a social space by the residents, but they can also be hired for a small fee by others, for example community groups or clubs. In Histon and Impington, there are communal rooms at St Audrey’s Close, Kay Hitch Way and Homefield Park. Many of the rooms are under-used, and sheltered residents have to pay toward their running costs.
The District Council’s Sheltered Housing team is doing a review of these rooms. The idea is to consult with residents of the sheltered housing schemes to understand how they use the rooms, and determine whether the level of provision is appropriate relative to the costs that are passed on to the residents. For example, if a communal room is unwanted or under-used, it could be converted into dwellings. All residents at our four sheltered schemes will be contacted, including those at Greenleas which does not have a communal room. Parish Council and external users of the rooms will also be consulted. There will be two events which sheltered residents will be invited to so they can meet with staff and the project team and share their views. The first will be held on Tuesday 24th July at St Audrey’s Close from 10am to 12pm, and then Kay Hitch Way from 1pm to 3pm. The second day will be on Thursday 26th July at Homefield Close, Impington from 10am to 12pm.
It seems to me that the existence of these rooms (and particularly their availability to hire) is something of a well-kept secret, and it would be a shame to lose them if
they could be better utilised instead.