Community centres - the vital unity every area needs to thrive. In Basingstoke, we are lucky to have several, but one stands out from the rest for its wide range of activities that bring the community together. 

Popley Fields Community Centre is situated on Carpenters Down, to the side of Popley Field. A small building, it provides vital community support for not only Popley, but Basingstoke and its surrounding areas. It is similar to Oakridge Hall and other community projects. Popley Fields Community Centre is the heart of ensuring local connection is simple and fun.  The building is run by the PFCA (Popley Fields Community Association), a registered charity aiming to restore social behaviours.

There’s no doubt that community centres benefit areas. Their use is believed to reduce anti-social behaviour in young people, prevent loneliness for older generations and allow young children to socialise with their age groups. Community centres will often have something for everyone, to meet their often shared goal of spreading the message that keeping in touch is always the way to go. They provide a sense of unity, and belonging for people in the area, as well as offering useful volunteer opportunities. Popley Fields Community Centre is no different. 

The centre holds regular activities, ranging from exercise clubs to young children's clubs. It aims to bring the people of Popley closer together and promote opportunities for people to help themselves. The current timetable features a club for Polish toddlers, allowing non-British communities to connect and thrive in Basingstoke. It gives parents an opportunity to connect.

Some activities are for specified age groups, such as the over-50s club, or the youth groups for either eight to 10 year olds or 11 to 14 year olds. These targeted clubs ensure people have an opportunity to socialise with their age groups and find people with common interests that they may not meet otherwise. Socialising this way is the perfect opportunity for individuals to better their mental health and get out of the house. Alongside this, there are many exercise clubs available, some also being targeted to ensure the correct speed and intensity. Exercise clubs are another great way to improve mental health and meet like-minded people.

Not only does the community centre offer clubs and support but it also holds the annual Popley Festival on the field. This year it takes place on May 17. Popley Festival often has rides, a huge car boot sale and stalls offering things such as ‘hook a duck’ or ‘lucky dips'. Events like this promote getting out of the house and enjoying little things to celebrate the community. Usually in December, a Christmas party is held - and for Halloween, the Popley Fields Community Centre hosts a costume party. 

Being such a central building, it also offers rental of the specified rooms to hold meetings or parties. 

To conclude, community centres such as this are the staple of ensuring support to ensure the area thrives. It tries to offer enriching activities for all age groups to allow for growing community identity and the opportunities to socialise to be easily accessible to those who would like it. Everyone can benefit from a community centre.

  • This article was written by Lilly Beeson, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter scheme.