Discovering “The Cavern”

It’s important to note that I wasn’t a resident of Gloucester at this time, I was living a few hours away in the town of Barnstaple (Devon), which is where I grew up. But as dreams to do something fresh and adventurous began to grow in my mind, I made the ballsy and slightly unnerving decision to move to Gloucester. But what would I do for a living? Nothing was organised, and I was completely reliant on help from above to find something within a month.

Jo had noticed online that The Cavern was in need of a Deputy Manager to join their team, so I applied (more in hope than in anticipation). However as luck (or otherwise) would have it I received an offer for an interview, which happened to be on the day I’d decided would be ‘moving day’ – talk about fine margins. So with my car fully loaded with almost all of my personal possessions, I left my job in Devon for the final time, said goodbye to my family, and fought my way to The Cavern through the near-gridlocked M5. I ordered my peanut butter hot chocolate (which was worth the wait) before meeting with Craig (one of the organisation’s directors) and Gabby (the Manager of The Cavern). We spent a fantastic hour or so discussing what goes on in, with and through the whole company.

I left seriously interested in the role, and proceeded to go away and have a somewhat ‘quiet’ week – I proposed marriage & received a favourable answer, moved into my new home in the docks, and slowly transformed my life’s outlook from that of a country dweller to a city boy. And around a week into this personal odyssey, I received a call.

The Cavern wanted me as Deputy Manager.

So since the middle of October I’ve been happily fulfilling that role. Working at The Cavern is genuinely like no job I’ve ever had before – every day is different and presents its own challenges and little surprises, and I get to be a part of something bigger than myself. For many years I’ve wanted to work in roles where I am making a tangible difference to the world around me, and in previous jobs I simply never had that sense when clocking-off time came around. But working here, assisting, training and equipping volunteers (many of whom are vulnerable or suffer from some form of physical or learning disability) and seeing the results before my very eyes as they willingly donate their time and efforts to becoming the best version of themselves that they can – that feels like making a difference. Our team of directors and my fellow staff are committed, friendly and a lot of fun, and it’s genuinely a privilege to be working here alongside them.

Every week, I get to see our fantastic support team at work. From 6-11pm every evening of the year, we offer low-level mental health support to help individuals in our community avoid crisis in their lives. Since this initiative began running in July 2016, local statistics show that mental health admissions at local A&E departments have dropped, and I’ve even met Support users who say they’ve been recommended Support At The Cavern by their local GP. We simply offer a safe environment where individuals can enjoy a hot drink, a board game and a chat, but it’s getting results and changing lives for the better. As a former performer at a Liverpool-based ‘Cavern’ once sang, ‘love is all you need’.

And rather excitingly, things are expanding at a phenomenal rate. New premises are being prepared for our gift shop, and where that currently stands a Victorian tea room will be opening. Horticultural and creative workshops are in the pipeline, as is a community kitchen. Our volunteer base across the company is growing every week. New initiatives including creative writing nights, sports groups and so on are being considered and carefully planned. Many local artists come in and share their musical gift with us weekly at Open Mic Night on a Wednesday. Bands from further afield are entertaining capacity crowds on our Cavern Live nights. The future is bright, and as a resident of Gloucester I’m comforted to know that there’s an organisation such as this at work to bring about change in our great city. Sometimes it can get messy, but as the saying goes ‘it’s neat and tidy in the graveyard, but it’s messy in the nursery’.

I know which I’d rather be in.

Thank you for reading.


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