Spark’s First Birthday!

Spark first birthday - group photo outside Sherlocks bar

Southsea group Spark Community Space reaches its first birthday in Sherlock’s Bar

(Press release published in Portsmouth News 28th October 2021)

A charity which was set up off the back of one woman’s personal life experiences has reached its first birthday.

Spark Community Space was set up by Becki Simmons in October last year.

Becki, who was previously a company secretary, had to leave her job overnight and readapt to her new lifestyle, relearning many of the skills that came easy to her before and finding her new path in life.

Her hope for the charity is that it can be a safe space for others who are fighting their own personal battles to reintegrate into society and to find their ‘spark’.

Although she has not got a permanent physical space yet, she has been running weekly coffee mornings at Sherlock’s Bar in Southsea on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, where people can come and socialise in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoy coffee and cakes made by local businesses such as the Tenth Hole and Naked Wedding Cakes, on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis.

She has already made some huge changes in people’s lives in just a year, including one of the volunteers, who has gone from being introverted and barely speaking, to now socialising with the customers and even securing paid part-time work elsewhere.

Becki said she partly has the team to thank for making it such a success.

Becki said: ‘Not only have we made it to a year, but we’ve smashed it.

spark first birthday cake

‘What a team we’ve got – and it keeps growing. I feel so privileged to see everyone building a safe community, welcoming all and reminding them that they’re worth it.

‘I dreamed of how it should look and feel once up and running and it’s even better than I could have imagined. It’s the real impact on peoples’ lives and the looks on their faces that gives you the motivation and drive to keep going.

‘Everyone has a story to tell, they just need someone to share it with – and that’s what we’re here for. Spark is simple, old-fashioned community, where you’re known by your name.

‘We’ve had so many setbacks and people have told me that I can’t, but I’m here to say that whatever people tell you that you can’t do, you can.

‘We just love seeing people start to sparkle.’

New and returning customers and supporters of Spark celebrated the milestone at the bar on Clarendon Road on Saturday, October 9 over coffee, cake and cocktails.

Mandy Tourle, who has been volunteering at the coffee mornings most weeks said: ‘Both as owner of Paperwise Solutions and president of Bishop’s Waltham Rotary Club I am so pleased to have been on this journey with Spark Community Space. From day one when the rotary donation we gave secured the pay what you can afford concept we have be blown away with what Spark has achieved in the community.

‘Personally, it gives me a lift every time I walk in the door and see the faces of people having a place to be safe, to be able to talk, laugh and go out back out into the world knowing someone cares and has their back. All this is possible due to the amazing person that is Becki Simmons and her team. Keep going, you make a difference to me and everyone you support.’


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