VOLUNTEERS are celebrating today after their struggling community centre was saved from closure.
Washington Village Community Centre, which has been open for more than half a century, faced an uncertain future after it emerged it needed urgent repairs and renovations.
The popular venue, which is run by a dedicated band of volunteers, provides a “vital service” for families and the elderly, regularly hosting events in the close-knit community.
Along with heating and lighting problems, its ceiling was on the verge of collapse, with health and safety inspectors raising concerns about its continued operation.
Now the centre has been awarded a £10,000 grant by the Asda Foundation to cover the cost of the much-needed work, safeguarding its future as it moves into the new year.
Dave Johnson, chairman of Washington Village Community Association, said: “We’re so grateful to Asda for the help. We just couldn’t have done it without them.
“When we applied for the grant, we thought we might get half of the amount we needed.
“We couldn’t believe it when we were awarded all of it.”
Dave said it was a constant battle to find funds, especially in the face of Government cutbacks and the economic downturn.
“Like most community centres, we are always looking for funds,” he said.
“Because of cutbacks, the local authority is unable to provide financial support, so we rely on fund-raising, open-days and anything the centre can bring in through events and meetings.
“The ceiling was a real concern for us.
“The tiles had been damaged and we had a six-month health and safety inspection, which highlighted the problem.
“The boiler also needed replacing, which caused all sorts of difficulties for the mum and toddler group.
“We just couldn’t have them here with no heating.”
Dave said the work is expected to be carried out in the coming months, with estimates already coming in.
“We’re hoping to get the ceiling and boiler sorted as soon as we can,” he said.
“It is such a relief that we have secured the funding and we are able to give it the go-ahead.”
Jan Hall, events co-ordinator at Asda’s Washington distribution centre, told the venue of the possible funding while carrying out volunteer work at the site.
“We had been helping at the centre through our volunteer scheme and Dave mentioned that it was in need of funding,” she said.
“I told them about the foundation and how the centre could benefit from it.
“We held a meeting and I helped them make the application.
“Thankfully, they were awarded the money and we’re all so pleased for them.
“The centre provides a vital service to the community and we’re overjoyed it will continue to operate.”