Starting in the Newland shopping Centre, the unit the Witham Hub used had been many things over the years, including a travel agents, cycle shop, charity shop and just before the current team took it over a centre for young people to meet up.
In November 2017 our Chair and founder, Tina Townsend, who had been a key holder for the unit for some time, was made aware it was going to be handed back to the centre management and saw an opportunity. She had a chat with the 2nd Witham Boys Brigade, who were the leaseholders at the time, and struck up a deal to keep the hub going while the wheels where set motion. During the following year a few events were run and research carried out to see what people wanted and what was needed.
We recognised that there were very few places for groups to meet other than coffee shops and pubs that offered affordable options. We also recognised that there were very few places that our vulnerable residents could be and feel safe, so we got to work.
Our first group started on 1st September 2018, a craft group which was a great success, many more groups followed.
We started to get things organised when suddenly we were hit with a huge issue…. Boys Brigade were pulling out of the lease and we had to move fast to avoid losing the unit and its contents!
Taking on the lease was a massive risk but we were very lucky to have some amazing support from Essex County Council Strengthening Communities who sponsored us so that we could continue our work.
After carrying out a big fundraising campaign we were up and running and were official opened on 2nd May 2019 by Rt Hon Priti Patel MP.
In 2020, just a month after we gained our charity status, the world was plunged into a pandemic and the Hub came into its own with a team of volunteers working round the clock to support the town and surrounding areas ensuring no one was left without what they needed, from food to a friendly ear and literally everything in between!
It soon became very apparent that the building we were located in really was not big enough anymore so the hunt was on for a place to go. Finding something central to the town that ticked all the boxes was a big ask but we eventually found the old TUI (First Choice) building in the Grove Centre and went to work behind the scenes brokering a deal to move. After a long 8 months of negotiations with the help of our awesome Solicitors, Bright & Sons Ltd, we signed a lease and announced our moved to 17 The Grove Centre. We finally moved and opened our doors on 7th March 2022 with our official opening by, Rt Hon Priti Patel and The High Sheriff of Essex on 11th March
In December 2022 we announced that sinced our charity was officially formed we have carried out 100,000 intervention, saved 100 tonnes of food from landfill and collected over 1500 times from just one store in the town….. pretty awesome stuff for a little idea that started back in 1999 after our founder, Tina Townsend found herself in hospital recovering from two strokes seeing people struggle with food poverty and social isolation and thinking one day I’d really like to do something to help….. the moral of this story is, you never know what you can do unless you try