THE first Bangladeshi community centre in the North-East was opened yesterday.

Presiding over the ceremony at Hendon, Sunderland, was Bangladeshi economic minister Yeahyea Choudhury, joined by the city's Mayor, Councillor Brian Dodds.

Banks of the Wear Housing Association is the lead partner in the centre, which will provide a focal point for the community in Hendon.

The scheme was put forward by the Bangladeshi working group, a partnership of the Bangladeshi Community Association, Sunderland City Council, the Hendon Young People's Project, Young Asian Voices and Sunderland University.

The centre can accommodate 400 people, who can gain access to a wide range of services provided by the authority and other voluntary organisations.

Courses and advice will be available in English and the Syleti dialect of Bengali