The past 2 years spent living through a pandemic has reminded me of many things; chief among them is the value of gathering in person. There is something essential about coming together with other people to share in an interest or experience. We are, after all, social creatures.
This is why Centrepoint Basel is so important to the cultural life here in our city. It is a place where everyone, whether they are foreign nationals or Swiss natives, can come together. It is a place where, as Centrepoint's Communications Coordinator, Beril Esendel told us, "You can be you." We sat down with Beril to learn more about what's new with the organization.
What is Centrepoint Basel?
Centrepoint is "a well-established, English-speaking community, located in the heart of Basel, where all nationalities are welcome." Founded in 1996 as an English-speaking community centre, Centrepoint has evolved into a place where people speaking many different native languages can come together and participate in a range of varied activities. While English is the common language, there are opportunities to meet people from all around the globe.
Centrepoint offers a variety of programs including:
Regular events such as its weekly coffee hour, monthly apero and Kaffee auf Deutsch (a great way to practice your German!)
A wide variety of ongoing activity groups including painting, photography, bird watching, meditation, Mahjong, book clubs and more
Conversation groups in German, Baseldütsch, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian
Monthly newsletter with articles relevant to its membership.
Centrepoint also features exhibits of local artists' work that changes 3-4 times per year as well as a large English book library available to its members. In addition to its own programming, Centrepoint has a meeting space available for rent, which is used by a number of other local organizations for their events.
Why You Should Get Involved Beyond becoming a member, Centrepoint is a great opportunity for volunteering. Centrepoint is entirely volunteer run with the aim of having at least 30% of its membership become volunteers. This goal enables the organization to provide its many offerings while also empowering members to find purpose and a sense of connection from their own contributions.
Like many organizations, Centrepoint's programming and volunteer base were negatively impacted by COVID. The organization is working to take what it learned from the past year and make changes that maintain the interest of current members, while attracting a younger demographic. It could be an exciting time to volunteer for an organization that has been such a mainstay in the Basel scene. In fact, Centrepoint was recognized for its contribution to Basel life when the Canton awarded it with the prestigious Prix Schappo Award in 2017.
How To Get Involved A standard annual membership costs CHF 95 and includes free registration to many events and activities, access to the library and discount at about 40 local businesses. Students can sign up for an annual membership of CH 65 and have access to the same benefits. And once you are a member, there are lots of ways to volunteer! Some key opportunities now include:
Closing Thoughts Working with such a long standing and volunteer oriented organization, we asked Beril for her advice for someone who's looking to get involved in Basel. While she emphasized the uniqueness of everyone's personal story and journey she shared how important it is to "find your purpose." Perhaps you will find it waiting at Centrepoint? Why not check it out? For more information on Centrepoint visit their website, Facebook or Instagram.