A new community space for Wantage has opened following the refurbishment of an empty shop on the town’s Mill Street. Called ‘The Mix’, it’s being run by the non-profit cooperative group, Sustainable Wantage, and is available for local groups and organisations to hire, and host a range of skill share workshops, fund-raising activities and recycling, resource-saving and re-use initiatives.
After six weeks of volunteering work by local tradespeople and residents, the refurbished unit at 15 Mill Street opened for the first time for Wantage’s Dickensian Evening. Local groups have already started to come forward with ideas about how they could use the space, and the project team are welcoming more suggestions. Wantage Town Team co-ordinator, Mim Norvell, who is leading the project, says: “We’re already planning a series of workshops where people with craft and practical skills can pass them on to others, we’ll be a showcase for the artistic talents of young people at King Alfred’s Academy and the wonderful ‘People of Wantage’ portraits, plus there’ll be a focus on creating connections in the community and resource-sharing. We’re very open to suggestions from local community groups, organisations and charities about ways they can make use of the space.”
The Mix project follows Wantage’s town team reaching agreement with the landlords of Units 13 and 15 Mill Street (the old Chameleon Drinks shop and its neighbour) on a six-month lease for Sustainable Wantage. Number 13 is being used for displaying local information while a long term tenant is identified. Anyone with ideas or queries can email Mim Norvell via email@example.com. Offers of volunteer time and small household items for the resource-sharing area in the space are also very welcome. There will be a dedicated website available soon for more information and you can keep up to date with activities via the Sustainable Wantage website at www.sustainablewantage.org.uk.
The first community involvement saw a group of local tradesmen, including Simon Cooper of Scoop Electrical, Tim Collins of TCP Plastering, Sian Lloyd of UpVamped and local painter Mikey King, donating time to refurbish the units to get them ready for use. Nick Ruck and Helen Harding from Falcon Signs volunteered to remove the old Chameleon Drinks hanging shop sign. Wantage charity ace Ray Collins and friends, including staff from Caroline’s Angels, have also given time to help the project, along with a number of local people and Sustainable Wantage members.
The Mix project is contributing to the revival of Mill Street – adding to the momentum created by earlier openings including Bake’n’Shake, Lil Hellers and the Flashop pop up shop and its stage 2 pop up neighbour, and work starting on the planned “Buzz Cafe” in the old Bartlett’s carpet store. It also acts on a recommendation from the Wantage public meeting to pilot a community shop.
The initiative is the latest being developed by Wantage’s town team as part of a town vitality project being driven through the town’s Joint Economic Forum.