The building with a heart
13 February 2019 | North West England
Community hub that helps make life better with classes, job opportunities and much more.
The Florrie is so much more than a building. It’s a community hub, exhibition space, meeting centre and place where locals just pop in for a coffee and chat about their problems.
More than a dozen groups meet here for classes in fitness, homework, photography, addiction support and English literacy. There is even a Scouse history singalong group. All classes are free.
Based in a restored Grade II Victorian building, The Florrie has a special place in the heart of people living in inner-city Liverpool. The Florence Institute, as it was officially named, was built in 1889. Nearly a century later it closed. But a concerted effort from the local community in south Liverpool saw it renewed to its former glory in 2012.
The one thing they do best here is help ordinary people gain back confidence and either find or back into work. With their employability scheme, they look to help those aged between 16 and 29 into work, training or education.
Ashley Sheehan runs the group: “We like to think of ourselves as being the opposite of a job centre. It is very relaxed here. We just want to help. We can advise and give support on interview techniques, cv writing and how best to apply for a job. Sometimes it’s just a case of showing someone of how to get online and where to look. Or we can sit with people and do a job search.
“Whatever they need really! We see ourselves as like a family and you will be greeted with friendly faces so you feel relaxed.”
Then there is the Dyslexia Support Group, a weekly drop in class. Timo Tierney, The Florrie’s passionate Community Coordinator, explained: “We realised there wasn’t much support out there for adults. People were suffering in silence and it was affecting their chances in work. We wanted to support them with their reading and writing and give them back their confidence.
“So we hold a weekly two-hour class. It is very popular. Sometimes an employer will refer a member of staff or a parent will come to help support a child. Either way, it is very brave of them to come so we will do our best to support them.”
He added: “I don’t feel like I am here working. I feel like I am someone’s friend. I just want to help anyone I can in the community.”
There are also weekly English literacy classes designed to support those who need to brush up their writing and reading. “Many who come are those, who for whatever reason, dropped out of school early. That will affect their outcomes.
“If we can restore their confidence through learning that can only be a good thing.”
Timo added: “For us it is all about the bigger picture of wellbeing. If you feel good inside then you are going to be more confident in the outside world. We aim to offer that through these classes but also with classes like yoga and fitness for all including those in wheelchairs.
“We are inclusive and the classes are open to all. We have people here who are fully fit and we have disabled people too. Anyone is welcome to come along. That’s goes for anything going on down here.”
With such a positive vibe, you can’t help but believe that The Florrie’s future is safe in the heart of this Liverpool community.
The Florrie is supported is supported by Power to Change - the independent trust that supports community businesses in England. Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trading for community benefit and making life better for local people.