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The Computer Centre was established in 2005 by 'Church in Society', a para-Church organisation based in Maidstone, with 10 computers, printer, furniture and ancilliary equipment located within a self contained room in the Powerhouse at the West end of St Aidan’s Church, Gravesend.
In July 2009, the internal financial difficulties being experienced by Church in Society resulted in them completely withdrawing from the Computer Centre. The equipment was handed over to the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Aidan’s Church who, recognising that the Centre was providing a valuable facility for the local community, resolved to explore all means to keep the facility open if at all possible. The PCC now has responsibility for maintenance and management, and has established a Steering Group including user, local community and PCC representatives to manage the Centre and raise funds for its long-term development.
The initial objective was to appoint a fund a half-time, permanent manager to both maintain current activity and undertake forward planning, and the Steering Group sought external grant funding to to fund the manager’s salary costs. £2,500 was awarded from Kent CC Member grants which covered the costs of employing a part-time temporary manager and fund-raiser for 3 months starting in January 2010, and to fund publicity costs. However, there was clearly need for a long term funding stream to ensure the continuance of this valuable community asset.
A grant from the National Lottery Heitage Fund was secured to provide the funding for an oral history project to be based in the Centre called “Games and Planes”, a project that is recording the stories of people who lived in the Westcourt area in the 1940’s and/or who worked at the airfield and susequent factories on what is now the Riverview estate. A very succesful project, this has also helped keep the centre going.
In early September 2011, the PCC entered into a partnership agreement with S&G Training, a corporate computer training provider. In essence, the agreement provides for S&G to manage and further develop the centre on behalf of the PCC. The agreement has no fixed timescale, and we are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership.