Hoxton community hall transformed into free business space for residents

Hackney Council's new Opportunity Hub

Hackney Council's new Opportunity Hub - Credit: Archant

A former 1960s community hall has been transformed into an innovative new space helping residents tap into business opportunities on their doorsteps.

The Hackney Opportunity Hub in Pitfield Street, Hoxton, aims to connect local people with the borough’s growing business community including that of the ever-growing Tech City area right next door.

Designed in partnership with Gensler Architects, the former Hackney Homes community facility, known as the Bell Club, has been transformed into a purpose built space.

A new location for Hackney Council’s Ways into Work recruitment job brokerage service, the Hub will also help unemployed residents find work with personalised mentoring, workshops, business-led training and master classes from subject experts.

And with nearly a quarter of local residents having never used the internet, the Hub’s free computer equipment and training will provide the support and skills needed to get online.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, cabinet member for Regeneration, said: “The new Opportunity Hub’s location in the heart of the community will ensure that local residents in Shoreditch can benefit from the employment opportunities that are found in the neighbourhood’s growing creative tech, retail and hospitality sectors.

“The Hub has also been designed to be a community space that can support after school clubs and other training sessions, including creative tech skills, such as coding for residents of all ages. The Hub is a space where our local business community can connect with residents.”

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Ross Burgoyne, Gensler’s senior associate and project designer, said: “Gensler’s pro bono design services helped Hackney realise the Bell Club’s hidden potential, producing a new space that reflects the attitude and vibe of one of London’s most vibrant and exciting boroughs today. For many, taking that first step can be daunting in itself, so the space had to be conducive to discussion and learning and approachable, from one-to-one sessions to group workshops, whilst still being able to host social events.

The first event to take place at the Opportunity Hub was a free employment event for Hackney people aged 16-24 that helped to provide a range of workshops from coaching in preparation for job interviews, to hints and tips for applying for jobs online.