A charity serving the community of Gorton in Manchester was able to expand its services to meet demand thanks to a partnership between a local housing association and the city council.
The Oasis Centre helps people facing homelessness, are experiencing a crisis, socially isolated, or who are under-skilled and out of work. It provides emergency food packs, free meals, and structured support.
The charity has been operating out of a ‘run down’ Methodist church rented out each week, but there was not enough space to help everyone who visited.
“Each morning, there is a queue of 10-15 people waiting for crisis support, and within four hours 60 people have come through our door,” said founder and chief executive, Victoria Armstrong. “But our opening hours and our space are limited and not fit for purpose.”
That’s where Manchester City Council and housing association One Manchester come in. Back in 2015, they began discussions around a potential partnership, which would enable the development of a brand new, purpose-built community centre for the Oasis charity. This, and 26 new rent to buy homes, all in the heart of Gorton.
They worked together to raise funds, agree on the land and create the design vision for the scheme. The site of a former bank on Wellington Street, which had been vacant for 50 years, and neglected land provided the space to create the scheme of three-bedroom houses, while also creating the new community centre. This enabled the Oasis Centre to double the space it had to offer and triple its opening hours.
“The building project between Oasis, One Manchester and Manchester City Council has restored derelict land, created new homes and provided much needed support for thousands of people,” Armstrong said. “It’s a fantastic partnership model which could bring hope to other disadvantaged communities around the UK. It’s been a privilege to be part of such a great partnership”.
Dave Power, One Manchester’s chief executive, added: “The vision Oasis has to end the cycle of deprivation is something that we share in our values at One Manchester through our commitment to creating thriving and resilient communities.
“Working in partnership with Manchester City Council and the Oasis Charity allowed us to create a much-needed community space, while delivering affordable homes to local people. The project is a great example of how partnership working can bring fantastic benefits to a local community.”
Main Image: CGI of the new community centre in Gorton. Courtesy of One Manchester.