By Nick Pelling

Hastings Old Town is about to become home to an exciting new community centre. ‘The Nest’ is to open the doors of the Old Town Hall building on Friday 1st October and will be celebrating that occasion with a three-day event, neatly entitled ‘Nestival.’

The Nest is to be a community hub providing the town with its first ever alcohol-free bar and café downstairs with a therapy centre upstairs. What makes this centre unique is that it seeks to offer a safe space along with training and a wide range of therapies for young people who are experiencing difficulties in life. 

The training will include front-of-house skills and ‘high end’ Barista work. The idea is to help unemployed young people develop specific skills and some vital self-confidence. This can then enable youngsters back into paid work.

Inside the Nest 

Expert therapists will offer art therapy, music therapy, group therapy and even one-to-one treatment. The therapeutic space upstairs is intended to give people a chance to explore and come to terms with that huge range of issues which is often clumsily bracketed together under the heading ‘mental health.’ The chance to explore complex concerns in a safe, empathetic and supportive environment will be a great step forward in Hastings’ provision of social support.

There will also be a performative art space aimed at giving bands, poets, podcasters and even film lovers a creative arena. The Nestival event is expected to be very varied –the Friday opening will be free but ticketed, to make sure numbers are not excessive. Saturday evening will be a paid ticketed music event in which the exciting neo-punkish band Kid Kapachi will star alongside Hotwax. The tickets will be available on Eventbrite. Sunday will be more of a chance to chill down, with the sound system and exotic cocktails of The Sober Sommelier.

The Nest has been organised by the Eggtooth Project which was awarded National Lottery community funding for the cause back in 2020. One of the organisers of Nestival, Lilly Cooper, commented that everyone involved is “really passionate about working with all other concerned groups.” The idea behind such co-operation is that places like The Nest can be the focus of a “sort of Super-Group centre.” Space will be open for use by such other groups as The Refugee Buddy Project, The Black Butterfly group and the Brighton-based youth workers known as Allsorts. The latter work closely with the LGBTQ+ community. Lilly is clear that co-operation is the key: “we don’t want to do it by ourselves. We are all stronger together.” 

There is a certainly a growing buzz around this project. And it is surely about time that there was a sense of new possibilities opening up for the young people of Hastings. 

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