“Nova has always been more than a skills and training centre – it has become a prominent community hub providing not only a range of educational, employment and pastoral services but also a place where users from different social and ethnic backgrounds can come together to learn and develop themselves.”
Close to the community for the past three decades
Nova’s history spans for over three decades. Initially housed in a church basement on Lancaster Road and registered as a subcommittee of the Notting Hill Social Council, we set out to help individuals and communities improve their computer skills. The organisation moved into Canalside House for 15 years and subsequently to its present home on Thorpe Close in December 2013.
Based in North Kensington, Nova is a friendly organisation that has been embedded in the community for 30 years. It is situated in one of the poorest wards in the country and aims chiefly to help those living in the margins of society who are finding it difficult to make a go of their lives. Initially, Nova focused on teaching local people vital basic computer skills and has since grown and developed organically in response to people’s needs.
In 2006, many of Nova’s computer students were struggling to learn due to lack of literacy and numeracy skills, so Nova applied to the Big Lottery and gained funding to introduce numeracy, literacy and ESOL courses. The following year Nova began providing information, advice and guidance to help people prepare for and find employment, and to access training and funding. It now offers a flexible mix of information, advice and guidance, classes and workshops – from English, maths and family learning, to volunteer placements and job search.
The number of people accessing Nova’s services has steadily increased year on year. In 2012/13 over 1,444 individuals used our services, compared to 235 in 2003/4; an increase of 500%. Over the last four years we have supported an average of 1,473 people every year. The number of people who access services trebled from 360 individuals in 2005/06 to 1219 in 2009/10.
Concurrently, Nova’s income grew from a total of £157,780 in 2005/06 to £442,134 in 2012/13. The burgeoning demand for services prompted our move to the larger premises on Thorpe Close – a move that has enabled further development and improvements to the range and quality of services Nova can offer.