The Community Resource Centre will improve the provision and access to a variety of essential support services, advice and information supporting the well-being of communities in and around the Blandford Forum area (DT11 postcode).
In rural North Dorset the lack of access to local services, including transport, health, training and employment, is recognised as being within the top 20% in the national statistics on indices of deprivation. The DT11 Forum Community Partnership identified, through its community consultation, the need to improve access to a range of statutory and community services as a priority in its Action Plan “Shaping our Future”.
In 2010 the opportunity arose to negotiate a lease on a disused public house in the centre of Blandford Forum to refurbish and develop as a Community Resource Centre where a range of community, charitable organisations and some statutory service providers could work in partnership to improve both access to and information and advice as integrated services .
Although the project was unable to proceed at that location due to financial constraints and lack of suggested funding, the creation of the CRC remains a priority for the DT11 Partnership.
The project is ambitious but a great deal of research into local needs and how to integrate the services to maximise to opportunities has already been undertaken. With the increasingly difficult financial outlook and the increase in demand on services such as the CAB, Job Centres and volunteering the need for the resource centre has become more acute. The recent Central Government programme for Welfare Reform and the move to “Digital by Default” for advice and benefits will have considerable impact in the North Dorset area where Broadband coverage is poor and communities are not well served by transport.
The Centre will operate as a community “hub” or “one stop shop” , it hopes to provide meeting spaces, office facilities or ‘hot-desking”, information and exhibition space for a range of customer or charitable and community services. An integrated IT system which will allow for a central ‘booking’ service, with computer facilities for training or on-line applications, research or information will be available to all users.