A Surrey-based community interest company is working alongside the county’s long term unemployed, including the homeless community, to transform an under-utilised daycentre into a modern tea room, scenic garden and beautiful modern spaces for local residents of all ages to enjoy.

Working alongside Woking Borough Council, and the borough’s homeless shelter, York Road Project, Barnabas Fresh Start CIC is undertaking the three month build project at St Mary’s Centre for the Community in Byfleet, helping to provide training, skills and support through working on the build project.

Mark Richmond, director at Barnabas Fresh Start, explains; “As a local resident and a family run charity, every project we undertake is incredibly personal to us, and St Mary’s Daycentre will become a fantastic community space for people of all ages to enjoy.”

Working with The Council, Woking Community Transport have been supplying daily transport from Woking to Byfleet, taking people daily to work on the project. The work has been able to continue over the past few months, with additional safety measures in place.

Cllr Simon Ashall, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Centres for the Community said: “With volunteers from York Road Project receiving invaluable training that could help them find future employment, this community-led initiative is a model project that I hope others will look to follow.

“I would like to thank Fresh Start, all the staff and volunteers from York Road Project and Octagon’s generosity in making this happen. Also Woking Community Transport, which has been ferrying people to work in Byfleet every day.

“I’m sure staff at the centre are looking forward to welcoming users back to a new-look St Mary’s when it’s safe to do so.”

The three month project will include transforming the large main hall inside into a contemporary tea room with indoor seating, while a pergola strewn with climbing plants is being erected for visitors to enjoy the outdoor space.

The team have been recycling timber and other build materials from the nearby Broadoaks Park development by Octagon, visiting the working site once a week to collect what they need to transform the centre.

Mark continues; “We rely on donations for the projects we undertake, so being able to use recycled materials from the nearby Broadoaks Park development has been fantastic – they’ve also kindly donated planting, to ensure the finished project is not only practical but looks great too.”

Tim Banks, CEO of Octagon, comments; “We are delighted to be supporting Fresh Start’s project. It’s a fantastic initiative and one we are very proud to be part of.”

For more information on Barnabas Fresh Start and the St Mary’s Day Centre initiative, visit freshstartcic.co.uk.