Interested Residents Explore Maulds Meaburn Institute, Its Uses and Roles

One man’s view of the Village Institute AGM

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Interested residents were treated to an open evening AGM at Maulds Meaburn’s capacious and elegant Village Institute on Monday February 28th.

I am just one of many who have been dying to have a look inside our Parish’s very attractive and rather grand new asset. It was a joy to see light in the windows as I approached and as I arrived a bit late it was kind of people to squeeze me in on one of the benches, there were so many people there. The conference room was pretty well packed, with the committee seated in front of the windows and the interested public filling the space before them.

We were updated on progress and asked to contribute ideas for possible use of the building and asked to volunteer for various roles that would enable this asset to realise its potential as a hub for a wide variety of social, educational, entertainment and business activities including:
Social gatherings, working groups, public meetings, live performances, parties, physical exercise, youth activities, Playgroup, arts and crafts and cookery activities and classes, various other types of classes, IT hub, coffee mornings and table top sales.

People signed a paper expressing their interest in helping with various volunteer roles. Some tasks were assigned, others that will be assigned over time (possibly on a rota basis for the ongoing ones) include: marketing, mounting shelves, labeling cupboards, receiving the fees, helping set up a PA system, keeping the accounts, assistance with preparing the hire charges list, booking, cleaning, tidying and planting the garden area, putting out the rubbish, opening and locking up, making an inventory of equipment and checking it, maintaining the office and computer equipment.

After exploring ideas in the formal meeting, we could then explore the building itself, the issue of the damp seems to have been so satisfactorily addressed that it’s hard to imagine it ever having been a problem – now it is possible to fully appreciate the fine proportions and potentials of this new public space. I was particularly impressed by how much larger it seemed inside than it appears from the street.

In addition to the conference room with its lovely outlook over the river and green, the institute currently offers an entrance patio with disabled access, a main hall, an entrance hall with bar area, a spacious kitchen, an office, Ladies, Gents and disabled loos, an induction loop, wiring for sound and lighting, three interconnected storage areas (a back stage), two lockable store-rooms, underfloor oil-fired heating and an outdoor smoking area.

With the advent of a Big Society Eden Vanguard community broadband pilot project seeming ever more realistic, it isn’t hard to imagine this building connected to superfast internet soon. Craig Brass of NextGenUs (one potential service provider for our proposed community owned broadband network) was kind enough to assess and explain the potentials that he sees for superfast inter-connectivity. I was so excited by the proceedings that I got camera shake and then forgot to photograph the office space. I’ll photograph it later when it is established, in daylight.

This building represents a pretty amazing accomplishment really. Hats off to all who have worked so hard and long to make it possible. The timing of its readiness for service seems to tie in very nicely with the growing importance of localism and the trend for decentralization of services. We’ll soon have a village hub again. A village heart. The implications of this fact are going to be quite profound, I think. This building is likely to add considerably to our quality of social life and likely to focus our attentions more upon local provision of goods and services. Like most things in life, what we get out of MMVI will likely depend a lot upon what we put into it. Synergies are already emerging that are likely to provide a greater sum value than the individual constituent parts could do on their own.

One element that seems to be missing is parking facilities, we may have to put on our thinking caps about this. Could parking be made available nearby? Could a local minibus firm be hired to bus people from the other villages to events where alcoholic beverages feature perhaps? Where there’s a will, there’ll be a way, I’m sure. The Eventbrite Online ticketing service could help enable organisers to better predict attendance numbers for catering and transportation.

Interesting times!

* Our grateful thanks to The Lottery Fund, Cumbria County Council and the many other people who are helping with the MMVI project

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