Romsey Mill began in 1980, through the vision of five churches in east Cambridge to meet the needs of young people on their streets. The project was led by Peter Phenna, the late vicar of St Martin's Church, Suez Road.
Queues of young people snaked the street when Romsey Mill opened, offering large drop-in youth clubs. The work remained church-based, with worship services every month. Highlights in the early years included the Romsey Mill Roadshow, which featured at Greenbelt Arts Festival and toured Northern Ireland. Under-5s groups quickly became an important part of the provision, as did schools-based work.
By the late 1980s, project-based groups had replaced large drop-ins, giving opportunity for development work with individuals. Several different programmes emerged, in response to needs perceived and expressed by young people. The Young Parents programme began in 1998, Transitions in 1999 and Aspire in 2002.
In 1997 we were approached by Ridley Hall Theological College to become partners in courses running under the umbrella of their Centre for Youth Ministry. The subsequent availability of trained youht workers from CYM made it possible to begin the Social Inclusion Programme in 1999, initially with unemployed young men.
The old Methodist chapel that houses Romsey Mill has seen several developments. The Jordan Bar was opened in 1992. In 2002, a legacy from the Martin family allowed the charity to the purchase of the building and there followed an extensive redevelopment to create more space for programmes and for staff.
Romsey Mill's work now covers all those parts of Cambridge considered to be 'multiply deprived' and extends to cover similar areas in south Cambridgeshire.