Connecting Communities

We want to help communities combat loneliness and social isolation by sharing information about groups across Herts and Essex

To connect individuals with the wider community, we’ve put together a list of great locations in Herts and Essex that are accessible via our bus network. From playgroups for tots and babies to activity centres for seniors, these places are for people from the region to come together, socialise and have fun.

No matter what your age, background or interests, our collection of Connecting Communities groups and activity centres in the Herts and Essex region is guaranteed to inspire you to head out and try something new. Whether you’re looking to get out and about, make new friends or pursue a new hobby, there’s so much on offer in your local community, and Arriva can help get you there.

All of the community projects and activity centres below are accessible on our bus network, and we’ve provided the route number for each to make things even easier.

Please use the information below to discover more about these groups and activities in Herts and Essex.

Focal Point Gallery


Based in Southend’s Central Library, Focal Point Gallery is a contemporary visual arts organisation that promotes and commissions exhibitions that reflect the context and heritage of Southend-on-Sea. The gallery has multiple venues across town and runs a comprehensive programme of events, projects and exhibitions throughout the year, many of which are free to attend and suitable for all ages.

Focal Point has become a recognisable fixture on Southend’s cultural map, with a variety of events happening throughout the year that bring people together from across Southend and the broader region. Thanks to regular funding from Arts Council England, the centre is able to support community projects and exhibitions which provide local people with workshops, activities and events, helping to inspire a love for art and culture in the next generation.

Focal Point Gallery is open to all ages and audiences, with a programme of workshops and free access to gallery spaces, a library and on-site café. The centre also offers a range of mobility aids providing ease of access for all.

Find it on Google Maps: Focal Point Gallery

Find out more on the website: Focal Point Gallery

Catch the bus: 1 Shoeburyness to Rayleigh

Hampson Park Community Centre


Welcome to the Hampson Park Community Centre, a space dedicated to helping local people meet and get involved in community projects and events. The centre has two halls, a kitchen, and community café, all offering a diverse range of events, meet-ups and workshops to all members of the community throughout the year.

Whether you’re looking to keep fit, join a specific mentoring class or simply have a chat with like-minded people, the Hampson Park Community Centre offers a warm welcome to all. Hampson’s popular coffee shop, which serves a range of hot and cold drinks and light snacks, is open 7 days a week, and there’s always someone around for a chat.

Hampson Park has regular groups aimed at those with memory issues, including GEMMS, Dementia Café and Tuesday Music Group.

These volunteer-led groups provide a lifeline for some of Stevenage’s most vulnerable citizens, giving them a safe, inclusive space where they can share their experiences and talk with others who may be in a similar situation.

Find it on Google Maps: Hampson Park Community Centre

Find out more on the website: Hampson Park Community Centre

Catch the bus: 2 Stevenage Town Centre to Martins Wood | 3 Stevenage Town Centre to Martins Wood

Stevenage Community Arts Centre


Join in with the fun and laughter at the Stevenage Community Arts Centre and be part of its thriving community. From flower-arranging to theatre and a locomotive society, there’s so much going on at this community centre.

The Community Arts Centre was built in 2002 as a purpose-built facility for rehearsals, performances and local events, and has since grown to become a much-loved community hub in the Stevenage community. The centre is revered for its arts programme (its history dates back to the 1950s!) but is also well recognised for its community and wellbeing events, which include Sewing Dementia, Garden House Hospice, community dance classes, and baby sensory groups.

From babies to seniors, all ages are catered for at the Stevenage Community Arts Centre, and there is a regular programme of affordable events, the majority of which are overseen by a team of dedicated volunteers. So, whether you’re looking to join in the fun or volunteer your time to help out with a community project, why not pop down and find out what’s going on.

Find it on Google Maps: Stevenage Community Arts Centre

Find out more on the website: Stevenage Community Arts Centre

Catch the bus: 301 St Albans to Stevenage

Southend Museums


Showcasing the rich local heritage of Southend-On-Sea, Southend Museums comprises four historic sites in the heart of the town, including Prittewell Priory, Beecroft Art Gallery and Southchurch Hall, as well as Southend’s Central Museum and Planetarium.

Not only do the venues document the town’s past, they inspire the next generation to take an interest in where they are from.

Whether you’re interested in literature, art, local history or the natural world, you can explore an amazing array of ever-changing exhibits.

There's also opportunities to get involved in workshops and events which are all about building communities and inspiring the next generation of artists in Southend.

There’s always something new to discover across the Southend Museums’ venues, so why not pop down and find out what’s going on?

Be sure to head to the organisation’s website for all the details about what’s going on in your local area.

Find it on Google Maps: Southend Museums

Find out more on the website: Southend Museums

Catch the bus: 8 Shoeburyness to Rayleigh

Southend Children's Centres


Southend has a large number of children’s centres dotted around the town that offer a variety of free sessions to families up to 5 years old. The journey begins pre-birth, with the centres running many antenatal clinics every day, which you can be invited to by the health team.

Once the baby arrives, the centres offer a wide range of services for young babies and families, including health clinics, baby sensory sessions, baby massage classes and weaning workshops.

Once they’ve grown, you can take them to a variety of sessions aimed at children up to 5 years old, including stay and play, messy plays, cooking, gardening and story time. Most of these sessions are free to drop in, so no booking is required.

The centres also work in partnership with many organisations such as Welcome to the UK and Little Heroes to offer speech and language support and parenting skills. As well as this, the welcoming crèche teams at the Southend Children’s Centres are always on-hand if you need some support or just a friendly face to say hello to.

You can find out more about Southend Children’s Centres here:


Arriva Bus Route
Find on Google Maps
Blenheim Children’s Centre – Blenheim Chase, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 4HX
Prince Avenue Children’s Centre – Hornby Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 0LG
Eastwood Children’s Centre – Eastwood Primary School, Rayleigh Road, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 5UT 
Centre Place Children’s Centre – Prospect Close, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2JD 
Summercourt Children’s Centre – Milton Hall Primary School, Summercourt Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 7AT 
Friar’s Children’s Centre – Friar’s Primary School, Constable Way, Shoeburyness, Essex, SS3 9XX 
Temple Sutton Children’s Centre – Eastern Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS2 4BA

U3A (The University of the Third Age)


The U3A (The University of the Third Age) boasts several great activity groups throughout Herts and Essex, providing people of retirement age a series of groups in which to build skills and learn something new. Discover if you’re close to a U3A group using our table below.

Arriva Bus Route
Watford Central U3A
Watford Park U3A
Ware U3A
Verulam U3A
Ver-Colne Valley U3A
Tring U3A
Thundersley U3A
Thorpe Bay U3A
Stevenage U3A
Southend-On-Sea U3A
Rayleigh Grange U3A
Northchurch & Berkhamsted U3A
Leigh On Sea U3A
Leigh Belfairs U3A
Lea Valley U3A
Hockley & Hawkwell U3A
Hertford & District U3A
Hawkwell Village U3A
Harlow U3A
Hadleigh U3A
Dacorum U3A
Croxley Green U3A
Colchester U3A
Chiswell Green U3A
Cheshunt U3A
Braintree Area U3A
Bishop's Stortford U3A
Ashingdon & Rochford U3A


Please note – the information listed is for guidance only, and we’d recommend visiting the website of the group you wish to attend for group-specific information, such as rules of attendance and up-to-date location information.

We hope the above has helped you find a regional class, activity centre or support group to help you, and has provided all the information you require.

We’re keen to continue adding to this list of brilliant community groups and arts centres, with more fantastic places throughout Herts and Essex. If you’re a member of a great community group in Herts and Essex and want us to know about it, please contact us on [email protected].

To find out more about loneliness and social isolation, head back to our main feature page, here.

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