PEOPLE are being urged to make the most of an underused community facility to save it from closure.

Barley Mow Village Hall, on the edge of Birtley, near Chester-le-Street, has a range of activities on offer, but the management team is concerned it may no longer be viable in future.

Now a campaign is underway to help the building realise its potential so it can continue to operate.

Development officer Graeme Wilkinson said: “It is essential for the community here.

“There are a lot of people who have come to rely on this place. One big issue for people here is social isolation and vulnerability.

“The hall provides somewhere for to go and meet others.”

The building opened in 1974 and was supported by grants from Gateshead Council until last year.

Funding was withdrawn following ongoing cuts from central government to local authorities and in August 2018 it was leased to a local management committee.

It is entirely self-funded but if the team cannot balance the books it will be forced to close.

Mr Wilkinson said: “We get no financial aid now whatsoever from Gateshead Council.

“We used to have workers here that were paid for by the local authority.

“They have all gone and it is run largely by volunteers as a result of the cuts.

“It is huge responsibility to take on, but a lot of people have really big hearts and want it to stay open.

As well as yoga and pilates classes there is also ballroom dancing, bingo, fitness, dog obedience, a French group and a wine club among many other activities.

Every Tuesday, from 10am to 1pm there is an indoor table top sale.

Mr Wilkinson said future there may also be events such as live music, quiz nights, social functions and show productions in the main hall.

He said: “There is a massive amount of untapped potential here.”

To find out more, or make suggestions, call 0191-410-5334 or email: