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The Chapel – Built on Strong Foundations of Community

The Chapel, at Graylingwell Park, is built around community – it was the inspiration for its renovation and remains its constant driver. Open to the public from 9am-4pm Monday to Saturday, with no requirement to purchase anything on site, it is a space to simply ‘be’. To meet, connect, learn, get active or give via our multiple volunteering roles available. Comforting food and drinks are available, served by a combination of staff and community volunteers with a programme of activities designed to support multiple, vulnerable demographics, as well as creating new interests and contacts for those feeling isolated or keen to try something new. The interactive children’s play area is a beautiful free space where young families can connect with each other.  Children’s books sourced for their tales of empathy and compassion ensure the values of the Chapel are integrated from early years.  Internal meeting pods function as discreet spaces for groups to gather, or as workshop units for the delivery of creative or interactive sessions, often with a focus on the delivery of support services for those in greatest need.  Where meetings or workshops are for the benefit of the community and free to attend, hire charges for the meeting pods and table hire are waived. Groups that charge for their services or have funding pay a small fee of £7.50 per hour for tables and £15 per hour for the meeting pods.

To ensure those in the community most in need of support receive it, CCDT has crafted focussed sessions within the open access hours.  Mondays provide numerous free activities supporting young families including:

  • The milk spot breast feeding support (FREE)
  • Drop-in sessions for families and parents (FREE)
  • Stories and Supper (VERY LOW COST)

Tuesdays focus on those that are feeling isolated, and more elderly residents. They can access sessions including:

  • Chatty café – connecting with volunteers and enjoying refreshments (FREE)
  • Community café – bringing residents together as a group (FREE)
  • IT drop in and support (FREE)
  • Art for wellbeing (FREE)
  • A space to be adults – for EAL learners, and community support (FREE)

Wednesday focuses on teenagers, young adults and outdoor activities including:

  • A space to be youth – for EAL young learners providing connections, company, and refreshments (FREE)
  • Open access Youff club for 11–18-year-olds (FREE)

Additional activities and groups are encouraged, developed, and provided with free space to deliver services that are free to attend including:

  • Stitch club
  • Cruise bereavement
  • Baby massage
  • Chapel chapters – a tour of the heritage displayed within the exhibitions.
  • Youth band nights monthly at the chapel providing free tickets for those under 18 and free performance spaces as well as free hot food for all participants.

More than just the traditional community hall, the space hosts a living, changing exhibition to a century of mental health care.  What’s more is it’s taking the conversation forward – in a time where mental health remains a topic too many are not comfortable discussing, but all are at times challenged by, it asks questions; explains how we got here; and suggests support for individuals to take into their future. The evenings offer a unique events space, unlike any other in the district. Whilst commercial in its hiring policy, as running costs including staff and utilities for the year that must be met without running at a loss being a charity, the team works with hirers to create accessible packages. Where tickets can be sold to negate hire charges, CCDT supports with ticketing and marketing resulting in profits made by hirers in most cases. Where the space is for private hire, the team works to find ways of minimising costs.  Examples of this include:

  • Providing both Chichester Fringe and Bosham primary school with rehearsal space whilst the Chapel is open so that the public can enjoy the entertainment and the hirer need pay only for the hire of a small percentage of the space. 
  • Ovation Music, the youth music charity, works with CCDT to hire the Chapel for one of their annual performances.  Ticket sales for the event are facilitated and promoted by CCDT, working as a fund raiser for the incredible work that they do.
  • CCDT worked in partnership with Chichester University to secure Arts Council and Foyle Foundation funding enabling the provision of free hire for performances to engage young people in live music, enabling them to attend and perform in monthly free gigs.

Critically, all profits made from weekend and evening events are used to help fund the range of free community activities provided during the day, examples of which are outlined above.

The Chapel was built for the community, co-designed with the community, and serves the community in all that it does. For that, the team take great pride and are committed to safeguarding its role for the future.  In just its first year of being open, the Chapel has achieved astonishing results.  Some data points that illustrate the value to the community are:

  • Almost 47,000 visitors to the space in just its opening year
  • 57 evening events hosted to a collective audience of over 4,500.
  • Over 28,00 individuals booked into daytime activities.
  • 2,184 hours of community hire was provided free of charge.
  • The workshop or meeting rooms provided 922 hours of hire, enabling groups to meet and activities to be delivered.
  • 43 volunteers regularly gave of their time and engage with the space.

Opening the doors of the Chapel was the culmination of many years of work from what felt like a whole village of people – community members that consulted initially on what it should become; the design, build, architectural and labour workforces that made it happen; the volunteers and supporters that cheered the team along and so often helped; the CCDT team who brought the project to life.  All of the positive energy that has been poured into the development can really be felt as you step inside.  The building has its own innate ability to provide the sanctuary the Chapel was designed to create – to make people feel more connected. Put simply, the community space you deserve.