Brief History of Community Wise

Community Wise started its life in 1964/5 when Eastbourne members of the YWCA of Great Britain purchased a plot of land in Ocklynge Road and built a youth and community centre.  The 'Centre' was first called the Hartington.  A Management Committee of YWCA members with an Eastbourne Borough Council representative took responsibility.  Activities flourished and youth leaders held youth clubs every evening. 

Local Government reorganisation in 1975 led to a drastic cut in funding support and the Eastbourne YWCA became self-sufficient from that time.  Youth provision was cut to a minimum and the building began to be offered for hire to outside groups in order to increase income. 

In 1994 a part time development worker was appointed in order to increase usage and maximise the potential of the building.  Growth took place and a new Committee was elected. 

In 2000 the YWCA of Great Britain undertook a down-sizing process and relinquished Eastbourne, along with many other 'centres' up and down the country.  The staff, YWCA members, Committee and stakeholders formed a new trust, Community Wise, arranging a loan from The Charity Bank to purchase the freehold. 

The new charity retained the aims and objectives and the Christian basis of the YWCA of Great Britain.  The Trustees began the process of planning a repair, modernisation and refurbishment programme for the premises.  After consultation with users the proposals were agreed and planning permission was obtained.

In 2005/6 an additional loan was negotiated with the Charity Bank and a fund-raising programme began in earnest.  Work started in June 06.  The forecourt was repaired and re-ordered to include disabled access.  A lift was installed to the first floor and an entrance foyer/reception area was built out from the existing line of the building onto the forecourt.  The integral shop was moved into vacated space downstairs and the offices were moved upstairs.  New seminar rooms were created upstairs. 

In October 2006 the upgraded premises were re-opened by local MP Nigel Waterson and Ian Lucas, leader of Eastbourne Borough Council.  Improvements have continued since that time, including the refurbishment of the toilet suite,  by fitting building and decorating work in to holiday periods and around the weekly programme.  Considerable growth has taken place in the numbers of users, the numbers of activities and events and the number of partners since the re-opening the refurbished premises. 

Repairs and modernisation to the rest of the premises has taken place in annual phases from 2006 to 2015.  The last part of the building to undergo redevelopment was the enclosed area of land at the back of the building. This refurbishment was completed in April 2016.  As the building has been upgraded and development of community life has been continued, numbers using the Centre has increased to the current usage of approximately 1500 individuals of all ages, stages and backgrounds in a busy term time week