A COMMUNITY centre on the brink of closure has been given fresh life thanks to a group of hardworking volunteers.
Last year, Durham County Council’s asset transfer programme led to fears for the future of Trimdon Grange Community Centre.
The already overstretched volunteers faced the choice of taking on extra responsibilities, including internal and external building maintenance, or losing a facility, which is a lifeline for many residents.
Fearing it would be unable to cope with the additional workload, the centre’s management committee issued an urgent plea for more volunteers and the community rallied round.
Committee treasurer Pamela Duddin said: “We held a public meeting and 40 people showed up. We gained five new committee members and quite a few friends of the community centre.
“They are all committed and enthusiastic.”
The centre, on Kielder Drive, was one of 16 community buildings earmarked for closure or handover in the county in 2012, with Durham County Council’s cabinet agreeing to close 14 others and withdraw funding from a further 38.
At the time, Simon Henig, leader of the council, said the Community Buildings Strategy should be seen in the context of the council losing 40 per cent of its budget by 2017.
Councillors also pledged to invest £2.15m to improve 36 centres, as well as repair schemes that had already been agreed at 16 buildings.
To save Trimdon Grange Community Centre, the committee had to produce a business plan to prove the building could be self-sufficient.
“In November, we were told our plan wouldn’t work,” said Mrs Duddin.
“I was devastated. I really believed the centre was going to close but, with Durham County Council’s help, we managed to create a viable plan.”
Activities now on offer include parent and toddler sessions, film nights, food and craft markets, youth clubs, spiritual evenings, slimming groups and a range of exercise classes.
Mother-of-two Florina Troup brings her youngest daughter, Ariana, four, to the parent and toddler session every Friday morning.
She said: “It is a great asset to the community, especially for the children. It is wonderful to bring Ariana here to socialise with other children.
“I like to come and chat to the other mum’s too. We swap tips and advice.”
The committee would be delighted to hear from anyone with ideas for new events and activities, especially older people.
Contact Mrs Duddin on 07800651713 or firstname.lastname@example.org