Southsea community rallies in support of Spark Community Space for first coffee mornings

A COMMUNITY has welcomed a new charity with open arms as it holds its first physical events to provide a safe and friendly space for everyone.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 10:59 am

Inclusive and supportive charity Spark Community Space was founded in October 2020 by Becki Simmons, who has been on the hunt for a physical space for the organisation ever since.

Thanks to local businesses and the community, Becki has been able to find a temporary base at Sherlock’s Bar in Clarendon Road, Southsea, where she has been hosting coffee mornings for three weeks.

The events, which run from 11am until 3pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, have seen people from across the city show up and support Becki and her cause.

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Becki Simmons with Spark Community Space team outside Sherlocks Bar Southsea on 2nd June 2021 Picture: Habibur Rahman

Becki started the charity to support people who feel like they don’t fit in, inspired by her own journey after undergoing emergency brain surgery.

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The mum-of-two said: ‘It's not about me, this isn’t my story now, this is everybody’s story. We’re not the fastest but we’ll be the friendliest.

‘Because I was in the business world, my brain knows how things work but because of my disability, it’s taken me this long to see that I still have value and I still matter. So many people have told me that I have to change to fit in and I don’t agree with that.’

Becki Simmons of Spark Community Space outside Sherlocks Bar Southsea on 2nd June 2021 Picture: Habibur Rahman

Becki hopes to empower others to conquer their fears and spend some time chatting with others, and the impact of the coffee mornings can be seen already.

She said: ‘We’ve seen volunteers who only planned to make drinks behind the bar because they didn’t feel confident enough who are now working front-of-house waiting tables and chatting to customers.

‘We’ve had councillors coming to show their support, people have held business meetings, the list of positives just goes on and on.

‘Not only is the purpose of Spark being fulfilled, but we’re creating even more opportunities. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community.’

Councillors Ian Holder, George Fielding, Suzy Horton, FSB's Emma Weatherstone and Becki Simmons outside Sherlocks Bar Southsea on 2nd June 2021 Picture: Habibur Rahman

The next big goal is to find a space for the charity to call its own, but for now Becki is extremely grateful to Richard Peckham, co-owner of Sherlock’s Bar, who has opened up the bar as a temporary home.

Richard, who met Becki at secondary school, said: ‘I’ve known Becki for many years and it’s great to see how much she’s helping the community already.

‘Already we’ve seen massive generosity from local businesses, councillors, and just general members of the public. We’ve had people volunteer their time for free to serve customers, people donating, including Debbie Tomes from Naked Wedding Cakes who donated some amazing cakes and a general positive reception from the community in Southsea.’

On offer at the bar are hot and cold drinks, as well as a selection of cakes being sold on a pay-what-you-can donation basis.

Portsmouth City Councillor Chris Attwell has supported Spark since its launch and said: ‘Becki’s commitment to promoting community and supporting others is truly inspiring. I am proud to know Becki and to support Spark Community Space’s work.’

The coffee mornings run at Sherlock’s Bar are running on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11am until 3pm and everyone is welcome.

Visit sparkcommunityspace.co.uk for more information about getting involved or donating.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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