Padiham Community Choir leader who runs Hugs For Free launching The HUB at Padiham to help tackle post-Covid loneliness and mental illness during Cost of Living Crisis

A Padiham woman who loves to ‘see people smiling’ is launching a community hub to help tackle loneliness and mental illness.

Vivien Storey will offer free activities like arts and crafts at The HUB at Padiham in Burnley Road to give people a safe place to turn to and help boost their wellbeing. The community has so far rallied around Vivien, with people volunteering to run the classes for free.

There will be an open day from 1pm on Sunday, October 9th, for people to see what the venue has to offer, with Lancashire Adult Learning previewing their courses. The hub will officially open the following day, running Monday to Friday every week from 10am to 2pm.

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Vivien, who also leads Padiham Community Choir, said: “The Hub is for anybody feeling down who needs somebody to talk to.

Vivien Storey inside Padiham Hub. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“There are hundreds of people who are lonely and suffering but feel there is nowhere they can turn to. Padiham has seen a lot of suicides. A lot of families have lost young people. Why did they feel so lonely that they didn’t tell people how they were feeling? It’s just so sad.

People are scared of talking. I think Covid played a massive role in it. People don’t know how to talk to each other anymore because they have been locked away. They don’t know who to trust.

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“The cost of living is also massively impacting people’s mental health. It’s crazy at the moment. People are really struggling mentally because of poverty."

Vivien has plans for a book exchange, arts and crafts, and children’s storytelling. The volunteers will also signpost people to further support services and help them to fill out benefits forms and write CVs.

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Signage inside Padiham Hub. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“There are people who can’t even read and write. Many people have their benefits stopped because they don’t understand the system, through no fault of their own. We’re going to work with Lancashire Adult Learning and New Era to get people learning again,” she said.

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“I hope the hub will bring people together. The Mayoress of Padiham said she is really proud of what we’re doing here and that it is just what this little town needs.”

Vivien was inspired to open up her own venue after successfully running a smaller version of the hub at Nazareth Unitarian Chapel for six months.

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“We brought around 19 people together on a Wednesday for two hours and it’s helped to change people’s lives,” she added.

Children's corner inside Padiham Hub. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
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“But it’s not enough.

“Then this little shop became available and I thought, ‘I need to do it now or it’s not going to happen.

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“Now I have so many people behind me and I have amazing friends who help me. The community is coming together and it’s fabulous.

“I just love the community and to see people smiling. I’m a bubbly person and it makes me sad when people aren’t happy. It just means everything to me to help people. This is what drives me. It’s just a terrible state of affairs and anything we can do to help people feel less lonely, we will do.”

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(l-r) Grace Power, Layla Boult, Vivien Storey inside Padiham Hub. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
(l-r) Grace Power, Layla Boult, and Vivien Storey with young volunteer Jessica Harrison inside Padiham Hub. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
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Vivien Storey varnishing the sign inside Padiham Hub. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard