As we mentioned last week, we finally picked up the keys to The Mill, and threw open the doors to the public on Sat 16th April. After the building has lain empty for so long, it seemed a bit unreal that we now had the keys in our hands, so the best way to counter that was to get local people back in the building.
We had a fantastic response on our first open day. People came along, shared some food, had the chance to look around, and best of all, volunteered their skills to come and help get the building up on its feet again.
About 100 people turned up, full of enthusiasm and excitement about the project, and offered to share their skills, from plumbing, DIY, gardening and more. It was a great day, and makes all the hard work seem worthwhile. We got a very nice write up and our pics in the local Guardian too, and were pleased to get a drop in visit from local councillors and our local MP, Stella Creasy.
Meanwhile, The Mill team have been getting on with looking at what the building physically needs doing to it to make it safe and pleasant for the public to be in there, getting recruitment of two members of staff underway, and writing our constitution and aims as we register ourselves as a charity. Some of these weekly meetings, as you can imagine, have been long and torturous, but part of the process of setting the foundations so that The Mill can grow and evolve as we get more of the community involved.
On tuesday, a group started to build planters to make The Mill look more welcoming from the outside, and give it a friendly feel. We also welcomed two new members of the managment group; Sultana and Amarjit who’ve given us yet another perspective on what we are all doing. Its great that our group is still growing, and not shrinking -yet!
Our short terms plans are to hold another open day in a couple of weeks time to keep the enthusiasm and interest going in the community and to start creating our policies, as well as recruiting and getting the surveyors in to assess the cost of putting the basics right. We’re really pleased (and a little surprised) that the Council officers have been so helpful in offering to survey the building, help with HR and of course our local Councillor Clare Coghill who’s been working hard alongside us to get The Mill up and running.