A COMMUNITY house set up in Chilton to give people access to advice, activities and training will close at the end of this month. (March 31, 2014) 

But volunteers who run the centre are confident that during the decade it has been open it has had a positive impact on the community and its residents.

Chilton West Residents Association was established in 1998 and one of its key aims was to create a one-stop-shop to give the community somewhere to meet and access services.

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The association secured two adjacent houses on Coleridge Road, at a peppercorn rent from the former Sedgefield Borough Council, and in 2004 Henderson Community House was opened.

Director Margaret Taylor said: “To begin with we had lots of people coming through the door from all over the village.

“They’d see what courses we could run, enjoy our coffee mornings, we had a popular toddler session two mornings a week and people would come to us for advice and we’d go away and find it for them.”

The building hosted healthy cooking, first aid, numeracy, literacy and IT courses, holiday activities for children and experts used it for advice and information days.

It was Henderson Community House that young people turned to when they wanted a skate park for the village and volunteers helped secure funds for the £800,000 facility, which opened in 2011.

Volunteer Kirsty Britton, a mother-of-four, said: “Because it was on the doorstep and ran by local friendly volunteers people felt comfortable going in for help or courses.

“I did courses that improved my skills and confidence that I would never have done if they were in a college.”

Amelia Campbell, also a volunteer, added: “Friendships have developed here and it has improved the community feel of Chilton.”

Mrs Taylor said that in recent years facilities in Chilton have improved and the town council, primary school and library all offer similar services but are better equipped.

She said: “The fact is that the demand is not there anymore.

“I really believe we led the way and can be proud that we’ve shown the need to provide more in Chilton and helped a lot of people along the way.”

Chilton West Residents Association will continue but a venue for meetings has not yet been confirmed. Social housing provider Livin, which owns the building, has yet to decide how it will be used in the future.