Tackling need through community action

Sitting at the heart of the community in Herne Bay is Maya’s Community Support Centre – described as “a home from home to many” by nominator Eleanor Holmes, a Social Worker from the Kent County Council Adult Social Services Community Team.  Francesca Day from the awards team contacted her to find out why she has nominated Maya’s for a Kent Mental Wellbeing Award in 2024.


Established in 2022, Maya’s Community Support Centre is a valuable resource serving Herne Bay through initiatives including a food bank, a free shop, an Easter egg collection and by providing a space for drop-in clinics aimed at promoting wellbeing.

In addition to a community café, Maya’s Community Support Centre runs the Free Shop, also located in Herne Bay High Street. Initially Maya, who founded the organisation, collected clothes and other items for those who had come to settle in the UK to escape the conflict in the Ukraine, but this has now expanded to a wider enterprise.  It opened on 16 December 2022 and those who visit can find a range of items including: clothing, bedding, blankets, toys, beds and other household items.

The ongoing cost-of-living-crisis has put unprecedented pressure on household budgets and in response to this situation Maya’s operates a food bank out of the Community Support Centre.

They have partnered with a number of local supermarkets including Aldi to collect surplus food that would otherwise be wasted and provide it to local people who are struggling.

These donations are supplemented by items purchased by Maya’s team with money that the Community Interest Company receives from grants and other donations.  What sets this food bank initiative apart from others is that those who access it do not need to register in advance.  It is hoped that this approach will help to ensure that those who need help come forward without embarrassment.

On 29 March 2024 volunteers from Maya’s Community Support Centre gathered at Herne Bay’s New Pier Plaza to hand out the 2,000 Easter Eggs that had been donated by the public, organisations and restaurants.  The Easter Egg initiative was aimed at helping families who have been affected by the cost-of-living-crisis, those who have fled from situations of domestic abuse or ill health.

In nominating Maya’s Community Support Centre, Eleanor Holmes, a Social Worker in Kent County Council’s Adult Social Services Community Team, wanted to highlight the great work that the organisation has done to help the adults that this team supports.

She said: “In social care, we have situations where crises arise at any point, Maya’s have been brilliant in supporting us and at times, at the very last minute”.

“Maya’s is the heart and soul of the community in Herne Bay and they always strive to go above and beyond to help those who are in need and vulnerable”.

Some of those that have been referred to Maya’s Community Support Centre by members of the Adult Social Services have subsequently come forward wanting to help with the organisation’s work by becoming volunteers themselves.  Eleanor said that engaging in this way is rewarding and gives them a sense of purpose.

Nominations for the Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards can be linked to a simple act of kindness that lifted the spirits, a business that has improved staff wellbeing, through to a targeted initiative delivered by a charity, community group or statutory organisation to support a mental wellbeing issue.

The event is sponsored by Kent County Council, Kent Community Foundation, ADM Computing, GrainLNG – National Grid, Medway Council, Optyma Security, Wave Community Bank, Cactus Graphics and CommunityAid.

Submit nominations at www.kentmentalwellbeingawards.org.uk For awards news follow @KentMWAwards on Facebook and X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.