The Ideas Hub’s befriending creative space, The Art Place, which is open 7 days a week provides support to over 70,000 residents of the unparished area of Chelmsford, residents of the Moulsham Lodge and the Kiln area being supported by Moulsham Lodge Community Trust.

Our “befriending area” is looked after by  volunteers trained to make friendly informal conversation. Some conversations can last up to one hour and conversations can be recurrent – regular or not – over a number of weeks, months, or even years. A problem shared is a problem halved.

We have created, thanks to an HM Government and National Lottery grant, a very complete database of health, recreational and social local organisations operating in Chelmsford and parishes as well as a database of places for hire and more to support Chelmsford residents with all sorts of enquiries.

In addition, we are able to offer, thanks to a sponsorship by the Law Firm, free legal service sessions (limited at 3 per families) on Monday mornings (10am-1pm).

Many friendships have developed at the Ideas Hub  between residents and many initiatives have been born from those chance  creative conversations,  with many new connections and relationships developing, such as the Local Cultural Partnership.

The  Ideas Hub  is also useful for training for return to work and work experience, in particular for adults with lack of confidence , and as support for non-English speakers (working in partnership with English for Women).

The Art Place uses its fundraising shop to offer a platform for local artists and makers to showcase their creations. In addition, the gallery hosts monthly solo or themed exhibitions for the pleasure of the eyes of attenders and visitors, workshops participants and the public in general. 

If you are an artist and would like to exhibit,  please contact us at and if you are a Craft Maker, please contact us at .


Case study 1: A

A. started to come to the befriending café. After a few months of patience and after many face to face conversations the Ideas Hub discovered that J. who is losing his sight was living with no heating or electricity as he was unable to read his bills and had been cut off, despite having tried to seek help from the utility company and relevant authorities. We used our network of support and the help of the Ideas Hub legal service, and with Essex Sight and Age Concern J was reconnected to the electric network, in addition to connecting him to new support specific to his needs.

Case study 2: B

B is now retired and a little at a loss so he decided to drop in regularly to the befriending café. Since then, he has made friends with A through the café. Furthermore, A used to volunteer for an international charity working with Russian hospices. He used to be fluent in Russian, but he is not travelling anymore and is missing speaking Russian. At the befriending café he has also met a Russian national and they now meet at the café once a week and have discussion in Russian.

Case study 3: C

C dropped in at the café asking for volunteering work. We realised C was a little young (only 12 years old) and had not been at school for over 3 months, was lonely, and needed support. C. had arrived from abroad with her family (who did not speak much English) who had applied for C to go to school but had received no answer. Using its network, the Ideas Hub found a translator who could interpret between the Hub and the family whilst the Hub phoned each local school in turn until a place was identified. Within a week C was at school and is much happier now and C’s parents are really relieved.

Case study 4: An opportunity for serendipity and friendship!

M and S have both lost a leg.  Over the years they’ve accumulated a number of unused shoes. Bumping into each other at a workshop at the Hub they realized not only that they have opposite legs but also the same shoe size and similar enough taste too! Sure enough, they brought their shoes in and each ended up doubling their shoe wardrobe in one hour!