POP idol Will Young was quick to sing the praises of a Stratford charity hub.
Stratford Samaritans were awarded £420,000 as part of Stratford Town Trust’s £1million CommYOUnity Challenge in 2014.
The money has been used to fund the renovation of Tyler House and create a charities hub within the centre of Stratford.
The Tyler Street building has since been completely transformed and in addition to being the new home of Stratford Samaritans, charitable or community-based organisations are now able to hire office and event space if they need a meeting place in the town.
On the lower floor, the Samaritans have a one-to-one room – ready to welcome anyone in need – while upstairs there is a suite where volunteers man the phones, and reply to emails or texts helping those in crisis.
And following the completion of the two-year renovation project, the singer was invited along to officially open Stratford Samaritans Community Hub on Thursday (May 26).
During his visit, he met volunteers and spent time discussing how the hub is making a difference to people across the district.
Will also spoke candidly about his own battles with depression and addiction, and said although he had never called the Samaritans, knowing they were there was comfort enough.
He said: “So often people feel they have no-one to turn to – the Samaritans offer a beacon of light and a listening ear.
“There were times I almost rang the Samaritans – it was really a lifeline, an option if I wanted to speak with someone at 4am knowing they would help me. They’re an invaluable institution.
“I feel really honoured to open the centre and excited about where this building is going to go in the future.”
The centre is already being used by a range of local charities including Heart of England Mencap, which supports adults with learning disabilities, and Al-Anon – a group designed to help and advise families of alcoholics.
In July, Lifespace – a Stratford charity providing mentors for young people – will take up permanent residence in the hub.
Claire Bowry, grants manager of Stratford Town Trust, said: “Tyler House is making a real difference in the community.
“It’s being used by so many of our charities and is enabling some to have their first base in Stratford for many, many years.
“We are immensely proud to see our funding has delivered modern facilities, which can not only support the Samaritans but also a number of other charities in their work.”