Caretaker's home at Sunderland school transformed from wreck into community hub

A former Sunderland school caretaker’s home ready to be razed has been given a new lease of life.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 4:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 6:02 pm
Dame Dorothy Primary School children welcome the community Hub in the former caretaker's building. Back from left Barry Curran, headteacher Ian Williamson and Pc Neill Overton.

The building on Dame Dorothy Primary School’s site in Roker had been empty for almost a decade.

But after Northumbria Police office PC Neill Overton, headteacher Iain Williamson and then-councillor Barry Curran discussed its future, it was suggested it was turned into a place for the community to enjoy.

Other schools, police, groups and charities will be among those to benefit from the space, which was put to the test during the summer when it was used to host sessions and help families with childcare.

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“This is a fantastic building and there’s been a lot of hard work put in by so many people to bring this project to fruition,” PC Overton said.

“Three years ago, this building was ready to be knocked down and demolished.

“However, after conversations with the school’s headteacher and Barry, we decided to all work together and find a way that it could be used to benefit the community.

“We are passionate about working with the communities we serve, and this is a brilliant, safe environment for young people and the wider public to congregate, learn new skills and experience new activities.

Dame Dorothy Primary School children welcome the community Hub in the former caretaker's building. Back from left Barry Curran, headteacher Ian Williamson and Pc Neill Overton.

“This would not have been possible without the support of Sunderland City Council’s North Area Committee and the Sir Tom Cowie Trust who helped fund the project and get it off the ground, and I know this will make a real difference to those who live in Roker.”

On behalf of the trust, Lady Cowie cut the ribbon at a launch event, accompanied by children from the school, PC Overton, Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, Vivienne Metcalfe of Sunderland City Council, Barry Curran and Mr Williamson.

Mr Williamson said: “The hub has been a project that’s been three years in the making and is a fantastic legacy for our school

“I’m incredibly thankful to all those who put in thousands of hours of work to help make this idea a reality – including the police, Sunderland City Council, Barry Curran and our staff here at Dame Dorothy Primary School.”

Pc Neill Overton with Dame Dorothy Primary School children at the opening of the community Hub in the former caretakers building on the site.

The council pledged £45,000 through its strategic initiative budget to support the project.

From left, headteacher Ian Williamson, Sunderland Council's Vivienne Metcalf, Lady Cowie, Police Crime Commissioner Kim McGuiness, Pc Neill Overton and Barry Curran.
Police Crime Commissioner Kim McGuiness with Dame Dorothy Primary School children at the opening of the community Hub in the former caretaker's building.
Barry Curran with Dame Dorothy Primary School children at the opening of the community Hub in the former caretaker's building of their school's grounds.