Tuesday 25 January 2011

Pepys Resource Centre

I've been waiting for a nice sunny day to get a cheery photo of Deptford Strand before posting this but since January seems unable to oblige, at weekends at least, I am obliged to post with the gloomy picture I took before Christmas.

The Pepys Resource Centre has been open for a few months already and although the scheme now seems to be gathering some momentum, it is still not really very well known outside of its immediate environs. In fact it's not even very well known inside its environs - one reader who lives on the Pepys estate only discovered it after it had been open several months.

The reason for its low profile is undoubtedly its location, which is also one of its great strengths, tucked as it is into the bottom corner of one of the old Navy buildings on the strand. Unless you live in one of the adjoining blocks or are a regular rider or walker along the Thames path, you are unlikely to pass this very welcoming library-cafe-community centre.

Last November the council heralded its opening thus:

Residents at the Pepys Estate, Lewisham are set to benefit from a new, multi-use resource centre boasting a new community library and a social enterprise computer business thanks to an innovative partnership between the Hyde Group and Lewisham Council.

The Pepys Resource Centre makes use of a previously empty space at the heart of the community and will offer a one-stop shop for residents looking for IT training, employment advice and support, library services and one-to-one health checks provided by an on-site health advisor.

Anchor tenant and local social enterprise, Ecocomputer Systems, will offer training in the recycling and refurbishment of computers, providing skills based learning for both volunteers and unemployed residents. The computers will then be made available to the local community at a much reduced cost.

From comments on a rather old post on Planet Pepys blog I understand that the space was previously a community centre run by local residents, but it seems that the initiative fell apart when some key members of the management committee moved away and remaining members either couldn't or wouldn't get it together to carry on. The presence of social enterprise Ecocomputer Systems will hopefully provide the impetus for this new initiative to continue and maybe even thrive.

So what does it do?

There's a very modest library set-up backed by Lewisham's library service and anyone with a Lewisham card can take books out. They also have half a dozen computer terminals that can be used for free, and since basic IT training is one of Ecocomputer Systems' remits, you can get help with using them too.

Feast cafe offers hot drinks, cakes and snacks and you can sit in one of the large windows watching the world go by on the river and the Thames path.

The centre also hosts a number of regular events; upcoming ones include a coffee afterenoon on Thursday at 1pm, arts and crafts for the under fives on Wednesday at 1pm, and a knit and natter session on Monday 31st at 10am. Join the Facebook page for full information. The Facebook page also has some nice pictures showing the cheery interior of the centre, and some of the events they have held so far.

Bring your old computer, printer or scanner down to be recycled; they also accept batteries and mobile phones among other things and I believe also do computer repairs. Darren Taylor who runs Ecocomputer Systems might become a much more familiar figure in months to come as he is enthusiastic about using this initiative as a model for keeping libraries going in places such as New Cross where the council wants to close facilities.

The centre is open Monday to Friday from 10 till 6, Saturday 10 till 4.

1 comment:

shaz said...

I read this 10 minutes ago, unaware of the centre's existence. Then my partner says 'You know that building opposite [our living room window] - it's a community centre!'.

How did I miss this?!