Qube celebrates 30 years of supporting the community

Qube celebrates 30 years of supporting the community

Qube is holding the first in a series of events this July celebrating its 30th Anniversary. An exhibition telling the story of Qube and how it has supported the local community over the past 3 decades is now on display in the gallery.

Originally called Helpmates, it began its much-needed Dial-a-Ride service and Volunteer Bureau in 1992 and has continued to grow ever since. Helpmates’ Founder Trudi Graham said: “Oswestry, as a rural area, demonstrated the need for flexible transport to get people to hospital appointments, or day centres or even to go shopping. For people living alone, without transport this was clearly an issue.  Helpmates gained funding to purchase an accessible vehicle and became the first Community Transport service in Shropshire.”

A lack of creative provision in care homes was also identified early on and a small grant was raised to train staff and volunteers to provide creative activities in care homes around the county. This has led to further community-based projects, creative opportunities, befriending and social groups being developed.

It is through services and projects like these that Qube has continued to have a life changing impact on members of the community. One Qube member says: “It has given me a reason to come out of my home. I’ve made new friends and it has enabled me to join other groups. It has been a life-saver!”. Another adds: “I wonder where I would be without Qube. They help me here, support me and care so much. I am totally blind and coming here is the best day of my week”.

In 1996, Helpmates changed its’ name to Oswestry Community Action and became a registered charity. Trudi adds: “The charity found itself in a good position, with this track record of activity, to apply for a grant to refurbish and design a purpose-built centre in a town centre location”. The grant application was successful and in 2002 ‘Qube’ was opened in part of the old Queens Hotel building by actor James Nesbitt and broadcaster Mavis Nicholson.

Since then Qube has continued to grow all its services in response to the need of local communities. Dial-a-Ride has supported over 10,000 people, transporting them over 2 million miles since it began. The social groups have provided wellbeing support to over 1000 people and the Volunteer Bureau has posted more than 6000 roles for local organisations. The gallery has shown work by such International artists as Picasso, Matisse, Paolozzi and many more never before seen in Shropshire, as well as local artists and community exhibitions.

Qube prides itself on being accessible and inclusive for all, regardless of age and ability, welcoming people from all walks of life. A member of our social groups remembers how “My son took a computer course here which enabled him to go to university to study cyber security. Now I come here to the lovely group meetings and to see the art displays.”

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic meant there was a greater demand for support for people who couldn’t leave their homes. Qube changed many of its activities to reflect this and now continues to help people who are slowly getting back into the community. One member says: “It’s helped me to focus better on talking to people. Before I didn’t have any friends but now I come to Qube and everyone talks to me. I feel a part of a large group of happy people. Though the pandemic they kept us in contact through phone chats, letters and activity packs.”

Chief Officer Laurel Roberts is now at the Qube helm having taken over from Trudi Graham in 2008. She says: “People remain at the heart of everything we do here at Qube. We would not be able to do much of our work without the incredible support of our volunteers who have given over 500,000 hours of their time in the last 30 years. We can’t thank them enough for all that they do for our community”.

The exhibition telling the full story of Qube is on display in the gallery until 18th July. Further anniversary events will be taking place later in the year.