Kingston Eco-op 10th anniversary group photo

Kingston Eco-op marked its 10th anniversary today at its premises in the basement of the John Bunyan Church. Sir Ed Davey, MP, who opened the project 10 years ago, was there to mark the occasion along with The Royal Borough of Kingston’s Mayor, Thay Thayalan. Charity partners, past and present volunteers, staff and individuals who have used the service over the years, were part of the event.

The Project has helped support numerous people over the years, including Tony Hyam 52, from Kingston who has been coming to Eco-op for the past 3 years. Tony said, “I enjoy coming here, it gives me a sense of purpose. I have made a good friend in Peter.”

He talks about his experience of the bike workshop. “As part of developing my employability skills, I worked on a range of tasks at the bike workshop - from cleaning donated bicycles, to stripping the parts from bicycles which could not be sold - to fixing a puncture or a broken chain. I really enjoyed it.”

Peter Nunn, age 71 from Kingston comes in 3 days a week and has been doing so for the past nine years. Peter said, “I am a morning person and like to get out of the house. This place has a community aspect and I have made some good friends - like Tony and Misty. When I talk to Misty I feel like my problems go away and it really helps. I also have the chance to play the piano here, which I thoroughly enjoy.”

Chris Williamson has been a member of staff since the Project opened in March 2009. “It is fantastic to see what the Project has achieved over the last ten years. Thanks to the contributions of all involved, from staff past and present, volunteers who have run activities and many partner groups who have assisted us, we have learned a lot about the best ways to build confidence, independence and resilience for those that join our community. To see such a diverse community grow, learn and laugh together - whilst showing respect and care to visitors, staff and volunteer alike - is why I am proud to have been part of this Project.”

Kingston Eco-op is a Project that came out of Springboard at Tolworth Hospital and with support from Kingston Voluntary Action. The Project offers a range of developmental activities for adults who have learning disabilities, mental health problems or other challenges in their lives. The aim is to reduce isolation, increase self-confidence and esteem, develop skills for self-help and mutual support, to learn and gain qualifications and create opportunities to cultivate employment skills. The Project focuses on the individual’s wellbeing, making sure that they feel safe and supported, whilst engaging them in activities suited to their needs.

Patricia Turner, Chief Executive of Kingston Voluntary Action said, “it is incredible to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Eco-op and being able to meet all those involved over the years. The Project provides a vital service to vulnerable adults in the community and we are delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile cause.”