Mum wants to get to the heart of EarleyBy Victoria Smith
May 11, 2012
A business has been launched with the aim of creating a community hub for Earley.
Sixsixty has been set up by mum Isobelle Doughty, who wants to give Earley a community meeting point with a café, indoor and outdoor play area and a site from which artists, crafts people and other small businesses can operate.
She plans to turn the business into a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC), where money made is re-invested in the community.
She will apply for grants and has already begun a series of quarterly community events, including an arts day in March, and is planning a go-karting event at Laurel Park on July 1.
The name Sixsixty was chosen because it is the address of the former Kia garage on Wokingham Road, which was the first possible site for the development and which remains a possible home for the new hub.
Mum-of-two Mrs Doughty, 36, said: “I have been talking to a few people and they think it would be really good if we created something that Earley has not really got – a heart.
“There is no real community hub. Wouldn’t it be really great if we could do something like that?”
People operating businesses from their homes, both in the arts and crafts and office-based operations, will be a central element.
Mrs Doughty said: “A lot of people are doing their own bits and pieces in their own homes.
“They are just sitting on their own cottage industries.”
Some of those helped her set up Sixsixty include Helen Banthorpe of Gladys Glass.
The intention is for one venue, but if that proves impractical she may have the arts and business space at one venue and the playground and café at another.
She wants firms supporting one another and networking rather than competing.
She added: “I would ideally like them all in one place.
“The play area and the café need to stick together and the arts and the business space could work together.
“We are constantly looking around for business opportunities.”
At the arts day on March 31, talented locals put on displays of their work, attracting 150 visitors, and another is planned for the autumn.
Money raised from the go-karting day will be split between Sixsixty and charities.
Mrs Doughty said: “The aim of the go-karting day is to get families and friends and give them something to work together on.
“It’s really good for families to work together. It will give them a chance to have a really good laugh.”