Royal visitor tours Swanley Link
West Kent's Swanley team had the privilege of meeting royalty on Wednesday, when Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester KG GVCO performed the formal opening of the town's new Link building.
The Duke praised the partnership working and joined-up thinking that had gone into creating the multi-purpose town centre hub, which includes a library, post office and cafe as well as a range of services provided by many different organisations.
Our Swanley team is based on the first floor of the new building as well as manning two of the six public information points on the ground floor alongside staff from Swanley Town Council.
Citizens Advice, Jobcentre Plus and a variety of charities also staff the information points at various times, while Kent County Council runs a library and registration desk and Sevenoaks District Council provides benefits and housing advice on two days a week.
After touring the whole building and meeting members of the public as well as staff, the royal visitor paid tribute to the centre, which is popular with shoppers who use the cafe run as a social enterprise by West Kent Communities.
“You have taken a building that used to be full of books and filled it with people,” he said. “Not just people, but people who can solve problems.”
The books remain, as the Link is still home to the town’s library, but as the Duke discovered while being shown around by manager Claire Cormack, it is now home to much more besides.
He spent some time in the families and social care room, where the Swanley Community Day Services team was supervising a craft and cake-baking session for adults with learning disabilities who were keen to shake his hand.
The Duke admired the impressive facilities in the personal care bathroom operated by Changing Places and paused to listen to the SureStart Swanley group enjoying their Baby Bounce and Rhyme Time session in the library.
He visited the ‘meet and greet’ desk before going upstairs to tour our offices and returning to the ground floor to comment favourably on his visit using the GovMetric terminal and then unveiling a plaque to mark his visit.