Boys in Mind Meets...
Nathan Gale at Rose Cottage hub:
By: Kit Cooper-Harrison
I run a community centre, Rose Cottage Hub, which has a cafe, a foodbank, two outreach projects, and space available for others to use. Our outreach projects involve anything from youth work to family support. About five years ago, I started volunteering here in the kitchen. I had no kitchen experience, I trained to be a mechanic, but I gave up when I realised how dirty you get! The ball just rolled then, I got more involved a little bit at a time. My passion for people has grown from there.
I went through every job you can imagine from working in the care industry, to working in a shop, in a bar, the whole time trying to maintain drug habits, and then I got into crime. When we had our first daughter, I knew that I didn’t want to go back to any of that. I came here not willing to talk, not willing to invest in people, not willing to invest in myself. I’d just hide in the kitchen. It took me a while to realise that there were people around me who supported me. It was a real challenge for me to understand that there are people out there who want to help.
If you’re going to be a community centre, then your first focus must be the community. This is an area that hasn’t got much going for it, people are down beaten all the time. To have these little pockets of happiness is vital. The amazing thing about Rose Cottage is that we’ve gone from a £200 loss a week to being fully sustainable in a couple of years. The garden is available for hire. The cafe is taking off. Every funder out there wants you to be sustainable, which we are, but we could do so much more.
This place is run by volunteers. What I love is when people come in to help in one area and then move into paid employment. The cafe runs three and a half days and then after school on a Friday. We want to be about more than the cafe, so we let other agencies use the space. We’ve got a pottery course using the space, a stop smoking group, young mums’ groups, all sorts. The cafe keeps us alive, but all the other stuff allows us to really help the community. It’s building relationships with people who might not usually walk through the gate.
I have 5 or 6 close people that I can moan or cry or boast to when I need to! For me it’s vital that you keep talking to someone, anyone. A little problem can grow into a life changing problem. Not everyone is going to have someone, but there are agencies and places like this out there that can help. It’s really important, especially for men. At some point you need someone to be able to offload on, that’s the great thing about this job because I get to be that person for a lot of people.