The Great Parndon Community Association (GPCA) has been operating successfully in Harlow since 1963.  Since its creation we have been managed and staffed by local people, for local people and are a registered charity. We have Community Centres in the true sense of the word. People of all ages, abilities and from all walks of life play an active role within the Centres. Their involvement promotes personal development, self-esteem and self-confidence by us offering diversity of equality and fairness for all, as a provider of facilities and services and as our role as an employer.

Our Motto is


We have a very diverse programme of groups and operating from our venues including some of the following: keep fit and self defence classes, badminton, short mat bowls, craft classes, mixed ability sports, bingo, stroke support groups, football, archery, homeless support group, dog training, carers support groups, pre-schools and full day care nursery’s. We also have 2 social clubs offering a full range of bar related activities including a fully licensed package of SKY and BT Sport viewing, and 4 function venue facilities. Please visit the activities page for our full programme of activities.

The Great Parndon Community Centre’s are situated in an areas of high deprivation and unemployment and the primary aims of the Association are to: 

  • Improve the quality of life for the residents of Harlow
  • Provide buildings and facilities, services and resources that will support the area and individuals.
  • Develop a community spirit & responsibility by encouraging local people to participate in the management & day to day running of the Centres.
  • Identify the needs of the area and devise ways in which the Association can respond to those needs.

Our Main Centre’s are open from 8.00 a.m. to 11pm, seven days a week, with pre-schools and hatches 8.30am – 6pm Monday to Friday. The use of our Centres are wide and varied, and are used on a social and recreational basis, with over 3,200 users and visitors on a weekly basis.

The Association is self-funding. The Management Committee are responsible for the upkeep of the buildings and finding funding and resources for equipment, running costs and pay for members of staff.  Currently the GPCA employs over 60 people, these are both part and with employees being local people, it makes The GPCA the largest employer in the voluntary sector within Harlow.  Everybody else involved in the running of the Centres are volunteers.

We have received over the years recognition and awards for the service we provide within  the local community and across Harlow and have been hailed by the Local Authority as a model of good practice both in terms of the opportunities we create for all members of the community and also from the “BEST VALUE” perspective. This good practice was also recognised by Community Matters a national support organisation for community groups by awarding us the best community club in Britain Award.

Our Association are proud of the fact that, whenever possible, we responds to the needs of the community and when necessary we will work in partnership with various outside agencies to meet these needs. The Association’s “What’s On” is evidence of this and clearly demonstrates the diversity of activities available. We truly can cater “from the cradle to the grave” e.g.  Nursery and pre-schools through to Indoor Bowling, 50+ club, support groups, reformed activities and ending with reception facilities for a wake..  In the wider community we have agreed to participate in the Local Authorities initiative of the BIG SOCIETY.

Finally, our constitution states that the aim of the GPCA is

to improve the quality of life for the residents of Harlow and its surrounds  by providing the  facilities  for recreational, leisure and educational pursuits”.

We are proud of how we achieve this aim. Our Centre is a Community Centre in the true sense of the word:

Run by the Community, for the Community”