New ‘Beacon of Light’ building planned for Sunderland AFC charity

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AMBITIOUS plans to create a new home for Sunderland’s Foundation of Light have been unveiled.

The charity wants to build a new home – dubbed the Beacon of Light – and is asking members of the public for their opinions.

Sir Bob Murray

Sir Bob Murray

The foundation says the new development, next to the Stadium of Light, will benefit Sunderland and the whole North East.

The charity moved into purpose-built accommodation in the stadium in 2004 but is now struggling for space.

The new plan is being spearheaded by former Black Cats chairman Sir Bob Murray, chairman of the foundation trustees, who said: “The Beacon of Light is an exciting project and would be a vibrant hub for the community.

“It would be a place that people of all ages and from all backgrounds can come together and realise their potential through the fantastic sport and education programmes run by the foundation.

Although we are under no illusions that there are significant funding challenges to overcome, I am confident that with the generosity of the North East and the foresight of national funders, we can create a pioneering facility that will benefit Sunderland, the region and beyond.”

The new building will allow the foundation to expand its reach and work with more local people in a greater variety of ways on areas such as health and wellbeing, education and employment.

The plans include classrooms, a versatile hall which could be used for sports and other community events, multi-purpose rooms for young people and a number of floodlit outdoor junior football pitches.

People can have their say on the scheme at an open event from 5pm until 7pm on Thursday, October 17, at Sunderland Aquatic Centre.

The exhibition will include a display about the Beacon of Light scheme and initial plans, which it is proposed will be submitted to Sunderland City Council in due course.

The charity, which raises 90 per cent of its project costs through its own fund-raising efforts, helps 42,000 young people and their families across the region each year.

It uses football to deal with issues including obesity, educating about healthy living, tackling antisocial behaviour and passing on awareness about drugs and alcohol, as well as improving numeracy and literacy skills from the age of three.

The charity has 120 staff and is backed by more than 50 volunteers, who run almost 400 sessions and work with 80 schools.