New lease of life for hall

John Barnett in the newly-refurbished St Mary's Community Hall in Horden.

John Barnett in the newly-refurbished St Mary's Community Hall in Horden.

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A COMMUNITY is celebrating the completion of the next phase of work to transform its hall.

The inside of St Mary’s Community Hall, in Horden, has been repainted as part of a scheme to bring it back into use in the village.

The project drafted in help from companies, community supporters and unpaid offenders to carry out the decoration.

Further plans are being put together to seek funding for more improvements, which could see more rooms created within the Blackills Terrace hall and a eco-friendly makeover.

Solar panels and other energy-saving measures could be installed as part of the proposals, which are being put together in conjunction with Reverend David Carr from St Mary’s Church, which rents out the venue, and Accent Housing.

Horden Colliery Residents’ Association, which has led the improvements, is also working alongside other community groups on the idea the hall could become a social enterprise.

John Barnett, chairman of the association, said: “At the moment we’re in the process of applying for a lottery fund grant from the Big Lottery for a major renovation of the building itself and change it into a community enterprise.

“The idea is if we get more rooms in the buildings we can increase activities and make it self-sufficient in its own right.

“The building already has a new roof and it has been painted, which has made a massive difference.”

The hall has recently become home to a weekly youth cafe, which meets from 5pm to 8pm each Thursday, and welcomes around 20 teenagers, with two youth workers from Groundwork North East helping to run the sessions.

The club has been praised by police for giving teenagers somewhere to spend their time, with nail painting, air hockey, billiards, dancing and computer games among the activities.

A food co-op is also being formed to boost residents’ health.

The association is currently working on plans to extend improvements out into the community, with funding sought to paint the front of homes in one of the numbered streets near to the hall. The work will be carried out from March 11 to 18 and is being backed by Accent.

More information about the hall and the association can be found via a new website, www.hordencra.co.uk