Community Spirit Alive and Well at the Gregson

2 March 2023

Lancaster’s oldest community and arts centre has had a new lease of life and is calling on volunteers old and new to support its latest venture.

After being saved by volunteers during lockdown, The Gregson Community & Arts Centre in Moor Gate has re-established itself as the heart of Lancaster’s community.

There is a new staff team working for the charity, a refreshed trustees board and almost 80 volunteers supporting its success.  Forty regular groups now use the centre and there are dance classes, art workshops, creative writing classes, film clubs that meet in the Secret Cinema, and a range of one-off events too.

Building on their success, the charity now wants to provide a café bar to act as a safe space during the daytime, where people can relax and socialise while enjoying high quality coffee and cake.

Volunteers have been invaluable to The Gregson’s recent success, helping to refurbish and keep the building going during lockdown in many different ways.

“I’ve never been involved with an organisation that the community feels so passionately about,” said chief executive officer, Charles Tyrer.

“I’m confident that local people will come forward and volunteer to help us run our café.”

About ten new volunteers are required to allow the café bar to open seven days a week. No experience is necessary and volunteers will always be supported by a paid staff member, work short shifts and be fully trained. They will serve drinks, cakes and a small selection of savouries as well as being involved in running community activities.

“We want the Gregson to be a safe space in Lancaster and we need volunteers to make that happen,” said Charles.

“We’re looking for volunteers to help serve and make drinks, as well as run activities and events for the community, such as the Chatty Café Scheme which we’ll soon be trialling. We will continue to serve the groups that already use the centre but also want to welcome new people  – the more people we welcome in, the more relevant we become in our community.”

It’s hoped that much of the café bar’s custom will come from the many groups which meet at The Gregson and Charles is open to suggestions from other individuals or groups who’d like to meet there or set up something new.

Currently, a range of groups meet in the café bar, including Lancaster Craftivitsts, Chess Club, Board Games Club, monthly knit and crochet night, weekly live jazz and folk music sessions, a monthly family quiz and local artists can exhibit their work in the bar too.

Those interested in volunteering in the café bar can contact volunteer co-ordinator, Lisa Shrimpton at [email protected] or phone The Gregson on 01524 84959. Anyone interested in starting their own group or hosting an event, can email: [email protected]

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