The Dorothy Parkes Centre is an award-winning community centre based in Smethwick, a diverse and deprived area in the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell, West Midlands. Our Centre was created out of the “Old Church” parish hall by an innovative partnership between the Parish Church Council, Sandwell Area Health Authority, Harborne Parish Lands, New Opportunities Fund and the Church Urban Fund.
We are now celebrating our 20th anniversary and continue to be a place of welcome and opportunity, accessible to all, open seven days a week. The local authority has identified health inequality, obesity, lack of empowerment of local people and elderly isolation as major issues affecting the area and our own experience highlights that the area experiences long-term poor health, both physical and mental, low educational attainment and significant unemployment, with those in employment mainly in low-paid occupations.
Our Centre helps to address these needs by providing, or hosting, a wide range of activities. These include a youth club, children’s activities, older person’s groups, creative groups, martial art groups, exercise classes, healthy lifestyle consultation’s, weight management groups, benefits advice sessions, job clubs and dance classes. We distribute food vouchers, host police, fire & council surgeries & promote other events and programmes happening throughout the borough. The number of users is approximately 700 per week and we believe that the Dorothy Parkes Centre is an exceptional project.
New initiatives in 2019 included the launch of our Community Allotment Plot, enabling local people to access a safe, outdoor space, and participate in physical activity, and learn about all things horticultural.