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Melanie Monaghan is the new Director of the Venture Centre.

Melanie Monaghan is excited to be working in Kensington again. After twelve years of work in community development, taking her to Cambridge, Bristol and Merton, Melanie’s new role as Director of the Venture Centre is bringing her back to the borough where she grew up and raised her two sons. ‘This is like coming home,’ she says, sitting in the foyer, ‘it feels good to be bringing all this experience back to where I started.’

After several years in administrative roles, Melanie decided to go to University, at first with a view to becoming a teacher. Then she found a part time job in community development that she could fit around her studies, and was hooked. ‘You can be really creative in the public sector,’ she says, ‘it’s not a selfless act, because you get so much knowledge and understanding back from the people you meet.’

Back in the mix of North Kensington, Melanie describes the area as ‘multi-cultural in the truest sense of the word: people really want to experience other cultures.’ She also enjoys Golborne Road’s array of cafes and restaurants, often making time at lunch to go out, enjoy the area and think over what needs to be done.

Melanie began her role full time this month. Her first plan is to get to know all the staff, volunteers, and people who use the Venture Centre. Then she wants to make some improvements to the building, starting with the foyer – ‘something that everyone can see and feel, and get involved in.’ Then it’s about ensuring the Centre’s financial stability, and planning for the future.

‘There’s a real opportunity here to be creative about connecting with everyone,’ she says. ‘The Centre’s buzzing, vibrant, so well-used and well-loved, but I bet there are all kinds of people we’re not reaching. I’d love to get more buyers from the new homes in, embracing them as part of the community too – that would be quite wonderful.’

Melanie’s conscious that the Venture Centre has a huge role to play in the regeneration project, getting to know the priorities of Catalyst and the local community, and helping to find ways forward that are beneficial for everyone. ‘There are lots of groups around here with a voice,’ she says ‘and the Venture Centre is a place where they can all come together and be listened to. Any area, any community, goes through changes, and we can make this change a win-win for everyone – there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.’

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