December Update and looking ahead to 2012

The Mill was bustling in December, with all of our usual activities going on, and special events to mark the season.

The Christmas Craft Fair featured local people selling their knitwear, and other goodies, and also featured some of the E17 Designers selling their crafts, and of course, cakes and biscuits made by volunteers.  The children’s party and bazaar was packed with lots of local children getting their faces painted, having mendhi done, making Christmas pomanders, and of course scoffing cakes and drinking Mo’s now famous fruit punch.   It was great to see so many of the neighbours popping in and having a good time.
The trustees held another volunteers day this month too, where they met with the regular volunteers who help to run the Mill alongside the staff.  The volunteers days are very important for the trustees to listen to the ideas and concerns of the volunteers, as they are crucial in allowing the Mill to remain open now, and in the future.  We’re continually impressed with how people pitch in, in the way they can, whether they regularly man the front desk, or they drop in with cushions they’ve made for the kids play room.
We’ve been incredibly lucky that this has been a mild winter, but even so, we were relieved to finally get the heating installed.  As ever, thanks to trustee, Ingrid for getting the heaters organised, and to our volunteers who turned up over one weekend to get the (very) heavy heaters up on the walls.  We did learn that sometimes we have to call on the professionals, as we did to get the electrical wiring for the heaters to a safe standard.
New cushions for play roomThe challenges for December, and looking ahead now that we are in January are to set the Mill up to be sustainable once our original grant funding runs out in April.   We have been rejigging responsibilities amongst trustees and staff so that we free up some time to devote to the future plans, and so that we get our wonderful volunteers in a position to take on the building post April, and we need to find some more volunteers.

A very real challenge for us is to make our regular users aware of the changes that are coming once the money from Nesta runs out, and we need to be self sustaining.   We plan to kick this off in earnest in our next session with NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations who help us on the Nesta Neighbourhood Challenge) where we’ll be inviting our regular volunteers to get involved in making the Mill’s future.

We are very pleased to welcome our first tenants, Social Spider to our upstairs office space.  We’re looking forward to welcoming more new tenants soon.  Our thanks go to Jim, volunteer and next door neighbour who has redecorated the upstairs and it now looks great.   Renting out the office space is a key plank in our sustainability, so we are pleased to have made a good start, and to have such great tenants!
As ever, we’re proud of the Mill’s volunteers, the staff and the local community for getting involved, and giving the Mill so much support and love!