A COMMUNITY charity has unveiled a new image as it approaches its centenary year.

Consett and District YMCA, now known as Delta North Consett, is no longer affiliated to the national YMCA movement.

Last year, following the withdrawal of funding from Durham County Council, the charity closed its five-night-a-week youth club.

Delta North Consett will now be focusing on its alternative education school, the Prince’s Trust programmes across the North-East and adventurous outdoor activities.

Pursuits such as rock-climbing, abseiling, canoeing and gorge-walking are available for school, community organisations, and groups of friends as well and stag and hen parties.

Chief executive Billy Robson said: “We are doing what we have been doing for the last 100 years, but we have got to get into the 21st Century.

“Some of out the national YMCA procedures are old hat as far as we are concerned and we are looking towards the future.”

Consett YMCA started life in a hut on Sherburn Terrace in 1919 and moved into its current building, a former steelworks infirmary, near Consett Police Station on Parliament Street in 1956.

Next year, the charity is celebrating its 100th anniversary and decided to revamp its image to move forward.

Chairman Alex Watson said: “The board discussed the move away from the YMCA agreeing it no long matches our ethos. We are not solely here for Christian men.

“We are an inclusive organisation, for all walks of life and all religions.”

The independent charity, which costs £1.5m a year to run, is funded through tuition fees from schools, the Prince’s Trust, its hostel services, boxing club, charity shop and fundraising campaigns.

The most recent success is the Delta Independent School for children not suited to mainstream education, which now has 65 pupils aged 14 to 16, and offers GCSEs in eight subjects.

Sara Conway, whose 15-year-old son, Jay, attends, said: “It is more of a college environment, which helps its students thrive comfortably in small academic groups.

“They give enough help and guidance to allow students to make informed decisions about their own future prospects.”

Paul Smillie, director of corporate services and company secretary of the YMCA, said he wished Delta North Consett the "best of luck".

He said: “It is disappointing that they no longer want to be part of the YMCA federation, but at the same time we hold no animosity or grudges and we hope they are very successful in meeting the needs of the community they are serving.”