Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
A building that has seen many transformations of identity.

A building that has seen many transformations of identity.

Genuinely in awe of Ore

Ore is said to be one of the poorest parts of the country, yet HOT’s Zelly Restorick feels it has much to offer its residents, workers and passing through visitors. With this in mind, she spoke to Mags Pawson, the manager at Ore Community Centre (OCC), whose dedication and generosity have made the centre a thriving hive of activities and events for many years. Long may the OCC ship sail!

Mags, who started managing the centre in April 2009, is one of those people who probably works for well below the minimum wage, due to the sheer number of hours she puts in, keeping everything flowing smoothly.

Where would we be in this town without people like Mags?

Where would we be – in this country – if we didn’t have people like Mags?

Mags would be the first to say that she works with a great team of volunteers, without whose contribution, time, energy, commitment and effort the centre wouldn’t flourish as it does. Since January, she has also had a paid assistant, which means she doesn’t have to work seven days a week any more.

The centre is open seven days a week, 16 hours a day – so you can imagine it needs a committed, stable, strong team to run such a space.

That's Mags, sitting at the back of the room by the left hand window.

That’s Mags, sitting at the back of the room by the left hand window.

Food for the community

Please read this and you’ll understand why I am genuinely in awe of Ore! Mags and her main-man on the food collection front, Matthew, organise a daily collection from local food suppliers, helping those people living in the vicinity who might otherwise go hungry.

List of suppliers who currently give their local community food: Co-op, local newsagents, Morrisons, Lidl (x2), Sainsburys, Bookers Cash and Carry and Tesco – and the head gardener at Fairlight Hall supplies the centre with fresh fruit and veg.

And also Fair Share ambient food (with a shelf life), although this needs to be paid for, as they supply stock for community organisations who have a shop, which OCC does. Fair Share collect supplies from local supermarkets, store it in their warehouse – and then divide it between community groups, where local people can buy it a reduced cost. Fresh food can be ordered.

“There is so much need locally,” says Mags. “We have 150 families signed up – and every session, we have around 30-40 people coming along. The Food Bank does good work, but people only have a limited number of visits, so it can’t cover everyone’s regular needs.”

OCC Wish List

  • A refrigerated van! So that the food collected from the various locations can be kept fresh. Do you have any connections with local van suppliers, anyone who would be happy to pay for/sponsor this vehicle, knowing they would be doing something fabulous for the the local community, simultaneously supporting those who are giving their hours for free, every day, collecting and handing out food and drink to those in need?
  • People to help with social media and website! The centre needs volunteers/supporters to help with social media and the website – ie keeping people updated on what’s happening and any changes and news. Mags is applying for funding, so there might be some paid work too. These might be ongoing roles – or one-off support, as there are some technical changes needed with the website.

Classes/workshops and events

As you can see from OCC’s website, there’s a wide spectrum of events and regular classes/workshops happening at the centre – something for everyone: computer sessions, yoga, pole dancing, cricket, dementia support, zumba, art, theatre, pilates, geology, choir with Oresome Sounds, creative writing, tai chi, boot camp, line dancing, working with clay, marine training, a Record Fair – to mention but a few to give you the idea. About 70 groups use the centre.

Ore Library

Just recently, OCC have taken over the running of the local library. As a person who fought alongside others (and failed) to keep Ore Library open under ESCC, I am thrilled that this resource will remain open for the town’s residents. I asked Mags if she was in need of volunteers – and was told she already has a full team, ready and waiting!

Hastings Visions Creative Hub

Hastings Visions Creative Hub is based upstairs at The Ore Community Centre. The studio is spacious and light, it even has a view of the sea! It is equipped with good quality tables and chairs, has its own kitchen area for teas/coffees etc and is available to rent for workshops or one-off projects that may need the space. There is parking and a great community cafe on site. For more information or to come and view the space, please email

4 Centres CIC

OCC is part of the 4 Centres/Healthy Neighbourhoods CIC, alongside The Bridge, Broomgrove and Downs Farm. All working for and with the residents of the area, creating a feeling of community and support and offering those people who don’t want to be alone the chance to be somewhere with other people and make connections.

History of OCC

Although OCC has been a community centre since the 1970s, back in the 1850s it was a ‘poor house’, then a boys’ school, then swapped to a school for girls, then mixed. All their veg was grown on site and used to feed the teachers. The outside sheds used to be the toilets and the back garden was used for hanging out washing and outside learning. Mags says that even now, she meets people who say: “I used to go to school here”.

When Mags took over, the only technology she had was an electric typewriter and a phone on which you couldn’t hear the messages. One of her first jobs was to get a computer – £900 from Foreshore Trust – and she’s still using the same one today! So you can see they make the most of what they have!

A BIG ‘HOT’ COMMUNAL HUG to Mags and Matthew and all the other volunteers and supporters.

Ore Community Centre
455 Old London Road
East Sussex
TN35 5BH

01424 432719

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Posted 11:37 Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Zelly Restorick

    Dear JS, Thank you for pointing this out to me. I can’t imagine how I missed putting in the website details! Done now – and the 4 Centres / Healthy Neighbourhoods link also 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to write to me. All good wishes, Zelly Restorick

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Saturday, Sep 22, 2018 @ 22:58

  2. JS

    This place sounds wonderful. Terrible that people are having to depend on gifts of food, with little respite in sight.

    It would be good if the community centre had its own website. Not everyone is on Facebook, or want to be.

    Comment by JS — Saturday, Sep 22, 2018 @ 19:06

  3. Zelly Restorick

    Dear Gladys, I will contact you to find out more. I have known Mags a long time and when we spoke for this interview, she said: “There’s so much more I could tell you”, but we had limited time and she had many things to be getting on with and people needing her attention and guidance. I said we could do some more articles in the future – one of these could be to honour this gentleman who obviously worked so hard to save the centre for the community. Thank you for responding. Every good wish, Zelly Restorick.

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Friday, Sep 21, 2018 @ 08:40

  4. Gladys Fawthrop

    Pleased to see an article in Hastings online Times about the Ore Centre and the sterling work that Mags and her team do there However it would have been nice to see some reference re it’s history about how, why and whom saved the centre/ land from being sold by ECCC ! If it hadn’t been for the dedication and actions of one man (who lives in the community )deciding that the building/ land needed to be safeguarded against being sold there is no doubt that today as such the centre wouldn’t exist and the community would be a poorer place without it.

    Comment by Gladys Fawthrop — Thursday, Sep 20, 2018 @ 17:09

  5. li’l megs

    Mags is an amazing woman and an inspiration to everyone around her. Her community work and community spirit and dedication know no bounds ! The world needs more people like Mags !!! xxx

    Comment by li'l megs — Thursday, Sep 20, 2018 @ 09:15

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