Cash lifeline saves centre

Alison Paterson (left) manager of the Blackhall Community Centre with employee Elaine Harold. Picture by FRANK REID
Alison Paterson (left) manager of the Blackhall Community Centre with employee Elaine Harold. Picture by FRANK REID
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STAFF at a community centre are celebrating after a £20,000 boost helped secure the future of their jobs.

Blackhall Community Centre has received a grant from the Lloyds TSB Foundation after its application was picked from scores of other hopefuls.

Delighted workers say it is an added boost, especially with the news that Durham County Council is closing a number of its other community centres as it tries to cut £159million from its budget over the next four years.

The cash will go towards the salary of centre manager Alison Paterson over the next two years.

Mrs Paterson says the guarantee of her job security will have a knock-on effect on the other eight centre jobs as without a manager the centre would not be able to develop.

She said without this grant, the centre would have found it harder to survive, even though it is a well-used hub of the community, with more than 1,000 visitors each week.

Mrs Paterson added: “In light of community buildings closing down all around us, Blackhall Community Centre has just secured £20,000 over two years to keep the centre manager in post.

“I’m over the moon. It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and gives us a little bit of breathing space to plough on with the rest of our plans for 2012.

“If I’m here, everybody stays. It’s given us a new lease of life.”

Mrs Paterson has been centre manager for six years and volunteered at the facility for six years before.

She has previously described how the centre had to become more self-sustainable, relying on building up its own revenue from its cafe, fitness centre and private functions.

It also had to rely more on charitable trusts and donations.

Mrs Paterson, 44, a Blackhall born-and-bred mum to Molly, 11, and nine-year-old Abbie, who is married to Mark, 42, added: “I think we might have been in danger without this money.

“Despite us being very busy, we are busy just to keep paying the bills really.

“So the grant gives us that extra cushion to continue the work we do.”

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