Chase your dreams

In her latest column about The Mill community centre, Helen Bigham finds plenty of inspiration

Mill Book Club

The Mill is used by local people, old (left) and young (right)

Walt Disney once said: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Sharing a vision takes bravery because no-one wants to be laughed at or have their brilliant plan diminished. By taking the first step and speaking out aloud, it can lead to collaboration with supportive people who in turn can help make an idea a reality.

For me, that first step was going to university as a mature student in my 40s. Naively I applied, not knowing how much hard work was needed – but sometimes knowing less can be the best way. I had poor A-Level results but I was still given the chance.

Thanks to that initial faith, after three years’ hard work I gained my degree. What kept me going was my passion for the subject and cunning ways to keep up my motivation. Coffee and playpark at Ikea was one strategy (The Mill wasn’t around then). But I couldn’t have achieved my goal without the backing of family and friends; after all who can’t benefit from a helping hand?

The Mill prides itself as not only providing a community space but also a place to encourage local people to follow their dreams. From the Souper Wednesday drop-in lunches, to The Mill Book Club, Scrabble Thursday, and pop-up pottery. An upcoming workshop will be a Facebook training session aimed at small businesses, charities, and entrepreneurs.

Another long-standing group is the Asian Women’s Support Group, founded by Amarjit Kaur Jagdev. This was established to support local Asian women and build on their confidence through social get-togethers and workshops, including ones such as healthy eating or learning about wellbeing.

Recently, we relaunched our successful ‘Grow Your Idea’ campaign. This is a community competition, sponsored by St James Big Local and the Co-operative. It aims to enable individuals and groups to try new things, or build up an idea to make it happen. Past winners include Marina Theodoropoulou, who set up The Mill Voices, and Beth Kelly, who ran a ten-week art project with a group of young people with learning difficulties from The Limes.

If you’ve got an idea why not contact Charlotte, the project coordinator, on Don’t end up a year from now wishing you had started something today.