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Minister praises community hubs

25 November 2016

Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson has commended Medway’s Community Hub programme, which combines library and customer contact services. The initiative allows residents to access more services than ever before under one roof, in central and convenient locations.

The one stop shop approach described by Rob Wilson MP as ‘innovative’ in a letter to Medway’s Council’s Deputy Leader Cllr Howard Doe, is working well across Medway, and a recent survey revealed that 89 per cent of hub users thought of their local community hub as either very important or important to them.

Mr Wilson said of the hub programme: “It’s always good to hear about councils such as Medway working in support of its local library services in innovative ways. I’d like to congratulate the council on all the hard work that has gone into making these community hubs such a success.

“This work will prove instrumental in ensuring a comprehensive and sustainable library service maintained across Medway for many years to come.

“The community hubs not only provide the existing library service to residents but also the chance to ask questions face-to-face about other council services.”

Accessing council services

Medway Council has been transforming local communities with the introduction of hubs in prime central locations since 2013, and now there are six;

  • Rochester
  • Chatham
  • Strood
  • Gillingham
  • Hempstead
  • Twydall

Residents can access council services such as planning, housing, benefits and environmental services, use computers and free Wi-Fi, as well as library services and speak to council officers face to face.

The authority has consistently stated its support for its libraries and the mobile service for rural areas and schools. Its dedication to maintain the service in the face of on-going budget cuts continues, with council leaders and residents believing libraries are an important community facility.

Space for community groups

Another major part of the hub initiative was to create spaces for a whole range of community groups and activities, such as baby groups and homework club. They provide venues for groups to hold meetings, surgeries and forge productive partnerships. Some of the groups currently using the facilities in this way include The Stroke Association, Victim Support, Blue Badge assessment, Deaf Services Hi Kent and Medway Youth Trust.

Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Community Services Cllr Howard Doe said: “Our community hubs are vibrant, dynamic places that offer our customers access to a wide range of services, and I am pleased to see the hard work that’s gone into creating them and making them a success, recognised by Minister Rob Wilson.

"Our library service cannot stand still. It is therefore adapting to changing demands while still meeting the needs of our customers. That is what we are seeking to achieve through our community hub programme, and I think it’s safe to say we are succeeding.”