Forge Urban Revival

Forge Urban Revival is a vibrant community cafe run out of a Town Council building in Telford. Ann Johnson is the driving force behind Forge – she has created a busy community space for art, craft, cooking and workshops which brings together local people.

I believe that most people would help someone else in their community if they knew how. I set up Forge at The Wakes to enable this to happen. It brings people together to eat, socialise or learn in a modern environment and this creates art, craft and eating-together opportunities for those who need it for their health and well-being. My greatest reward is when a person comes alone to one activity and is soon seen at another with newly made friends.

I met Ann (above) at the beginning of my work on the Enterprising Communities project, a piece of work being run by Community Catalysts in 4 UK sites, one of which is Telford and Wrekin. I was really inspired by Ann’s ideas and thought they fit totally with the Enterprising Communities ethos. I signposted her to the School for Social Entrepreneurs Programme where she received business support for her community business. I also took steps to connect Ann and her enthusiasm to a range of other people and organisations in the community who could help share resources, knowledge and skills.

Chris is our link to the wider community – she knows us and our aspirations and can find leads, opportunities and quick routes to the people we need to speak to.  I have a lot to thank Chris for, she is a great asset to me and Forge.

Just 12 months since opening Forge, Ann has set up a range of activities for local people in her community: from Soup Social, to Wellness Wednesdays, from free crafting events to a carers’ wellbeing group. As a real bonus the centre is well on the way to being financially sustainable.

Forge has a warm and welcoming atmosphere where people from diverse backgrounds and different abilities come together.

Telford has some of the most challenged communities in England – more than a quarter of the borough’s population lives in the 20% most deprived areas nationally. This community cafe provides a positive space for people to come together, learn and laugh. Ann calls the centre a “profit for purpose business”, and what a great purpose it is.

The Enterprising Communities Project is funded by Power to Change and The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

by Chris Clarke
Community Business Coordinator