On 1st June, the VCSA Board held its latest meeting at the Roy Fletcher Centre’s (RFC) main meeting room. Lit by the natural skylight of the room, the Board – as well as guests from SALC and Shropshire Council – worked through their packed agenda at what was only their second time in-person since the start of the pandemic.
This was the first time the VCSA Board has met at the Roy Fletcher Centre, but this space is familiar to many on the Board, since it has long been a welcoming and supportive place for local charities, voluntary organisations, CICs and other community-focused groups.
Located in a beautiful brick building in the heart of Shrewsbury Town Centre, the Roy Fletcher Centre was the brainchild of Roy Fletcher. Jenny Taylor, the Centre’s Chief Executive, tells the story behind the vision:
“Roy Fletcher was a builder and through this work he came into contact with charities and learned of the adverse financial problems they could experience. He had a vision of creating a building to provide good quality, low cost, fully serviced office accommodation to charities who provided a service to the people of Shrewsbury. The Roy Fletcher Charity Trust (RFCT) was established and administered by his three daughters and son. The search started for such a building to convert and so The Roy Fletcher Centre came into being. As with all new ideas, charities took some persuading as to the advantages of the arrangement but eventually they recognised the benefits. The space proved to be so popular that the Trust acquired and converted another building, Fletcher House on College Hill, just a decade later. The RFC has gone from strength to strength led by a very dedicated Board of Trustees. The RFCT has since donated millions of pounds in grants/donations to many charities across Shropshire. Sadly, Roy Fletcher died before the RFC was completed. At the time of opening, it is believed the RFC was one of the first of its kind.”
To become a tenant charity at the RFC your organisation must provide a service to the people of Shrewsbury. However, meeting and counselling rooms are available for hire by any charity, voluntary/community group and other organisations..
In addition to its beautiful main meeting room, The Roy Fletcher Centre offers a full range of office services such as printing and scanning for voluntary groups and other organisations to produce their newsletters, as well as five counselling rooms, and a Go-To Internet Resource Centre – all available for hire at very competitive rates.
The Centre is run by a small team of dedicated employees who go the extra mile for all their tenant charities and anyone who walks through the doors in need of help. They are complemented by an equally enthusiastic group of volunteers and are always very grateful to anyone who would like to volunteer at the Centre (see volunteer opportunities section below).
The RFC remained open during the pandemic in order that its charities could continue to support their clients. However, all meeting room hire had to cease, this badly affected their main source of raising additional revenue. Gradually people are returning to the meeting rooms but other groups have found alternative ways of ‘meeting’. The Centre is very keen to build up this service again.
Pauline Briand, who manages the current IT Skills Project, is especially keen to recruit volunteers (see volunteer role description below) for their IT tuition service, providing free one to one sessions for the 65+ age group every Monday from 10am – 2pm. There is also a drop- in I.T. Skills Support Group which meets on Thursdays from 10:30am – 1pm.
Generously supported by Shropshire Council, these services are designed to help tackle digital inequalities in the local community, particularly as more and more Councils and other crucial community services begin to move to digital only access.
But, as Pauline explains, this service is not only about helping senior members of the local community with I.T. skills, “what we offer is also about tackling isolation.” Anyone can drop in on a Thursday for IT help and a cup of tea or coffee a biscuit and a chat with like-minded people, plus the prospect of other activities in the pipeline.
Whether it’s offering office accommodation, meeting/counselling room hire, or hosting digital support services, that’s what the Roy Fletcher Centre is all about - building and supporting the local community.
Interested in learning more about the RFC services or booking a space for your next meeting? Email the Roy Fletcher Centre Team or phone them on 01743 341300.
Image: IT Skills Support group meeting in the main room of the Roy Fletcher Centre