Ernest's story

“The Bromley by Bow Centre is the best example of what a community centre should be” 

Themes: Social prescribing; ESOL; IT classes; horticulture; sports; men’s groups; creative expression.

Ernest is an intelligent and articulate man, a father of three sons, with a playful sense of humour. He first became involved with the Bromley by Bow Centre in 2009 when he received a leaflet informing him of the many things on offer. “Despite working, I felt a little isolated and lacking in confidence at the time. The Centre appeared to be a welcoming and inclusive place so I thought, I’ll give it a try” he said, “I came to learn but also to contribute”

At the beginning, Ernest participated in English lessons and computer classes to build his skills.  Originally from Pakistan, Ernest already had a good standard of spoken English and was able to use this to support others in his group.  He was referred to ‘Find Your Voice’ workshops by his social prescriber to encourage self-expression and this helped build his confidence and find new ways to express himself.  He charmingly describes the UK as having “some magic in this land.”

As he became a regular at the Centre, Ernest decided to get involved in other groups and activities for his health and wellbeing.  He got involved with local gardening projects including the Centre’s group that helps keep our grounds looking good.  Ernest regularly attends a men’s group on Fridays at the Centre and, in the photo, is seen wearing one of community member Liz’s T Shirts that promote men’s wellbeing.

For physical and mental health, Ernest participates in cycling and badminton groups.

He also enjoys volunteering at the Centre.  He speaks to funders and supporters to tell them about the impact of the Centre and he participates in research projects and supports groups.  Ernest is trained to Level 5 in Advice and Guidance so he has a strong understanding of the challenges people face.

“The Centre not only offers meaningful connection with others but gives a sense of purpose, Ernest states “The staff are so friendly and keen to encourage us to develop ourselves and our ideas.  I have learnt so much from the Centre and it’s a pleasure to share this with others, including my community in Pakistan.

“The Centre is such an accepting place, It’s like a second home, a place you can go back to where you know you will always be welcomed.  It is the best example of what a community Centre should be”, Ernest concludes.