How a Sunderland community centre is enjoying a new lease of life

A centre which has been at the heart of a community for more than half a century is enjoying a new lease of life.

Friday, 3rd June 2022, 4:55 am

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To reflect its position in the ward, the old Grangetown Community Centre reopened as St Michael’s Community Centre just after lockdown last year with a new look and a new management committee.

It’s made great strides in getting more people through the doors of the base in Stannington Grove, Hill View, and they’re hoping even more people will use its facilities.

Since it reopened in autumn last year, 607 visitors have used the centre, which has also provided 89 people with access to the internet who wouldn’t have it otherwise.

Coun. Michael Dixon, Liz McEvoy, Jackie Robson, Susan Ferguson and Denis Crompton at St Michael's Community Centre, Stannington Grove, Sunderland

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Among the groups who use it are Blue Watch Youth Centre, Sunderland Lions, Slimming World, Police Cadets, Ashbrooke Yoga, Julie Cook Yoga, Go Online and more.

Susan Ferguson, senior youth worker at Blue Watch, who is also treasurer at the community centre, said: “The centre has been a really valuable part of the community since it was modernised and it’s made a massive difference. We use it to run our after school clubs and youth activities and since reopening, to the end of March, 166 children and young people have accessed the centre. It’s also used during the school holidays for food and activities.”

Young people have also been able to use the centre to access mental health support.

The centre has helped Blue Watch, which also has a base in Ryhope, to boost its youth work and recently it took on two of its young people, Beth Fenwick and Charlie Lamb, as youth workers themselves.

Coun. Michael Dixon, Jackie Robson, Denis Crompton and Liz McEvoy at St Michael's Community Centre, Stannington Grove, Sunderland

Development worker Denis Crompton says the centre is aimed at all ages and it recently launched a coffee morning on Tuesdays from 10.30am to 12noon which is aimed at anyone who wants to pop in for a cuppa and a biscuit.

"Children’s parties have been really popular on weekends as we only charge £15 an hour for room hire, but there’s lots of potential to welcome more people during the week,” he said. "A lot of people remember what it looked like from the 50s, so they’re surprised when they see it now.”

Cllr Michael Dixon from St Michael’s ward said: “We have a very good management committee of local people in place which meets regularly, with Denis taking all the bookings and running courses including a future one for First Aid.

"As St Michael’s councillors we can continue to assist with any funding where necessary; a new, much-needed Notice Board will soon be installed, plus an essential defibrillator. Both were obtained through ward-based Community Chest and Walk and Talk budgets within our East Area Committee.”

St Michael's Community Centre, Stannington Grove, Sunderland

The management committee are also concerned about social isolation in the ward and have begun new classes such as mindfulness to improve mental health and gentle yoga which is accessible to all no matter what their ability or age.

:: A Mindfulness programme delivered by the Little Company of Calm starts June 15 and runs each each Wednesday. Call in at 9.15am for a cuppa with the session starting at 9.30am until 10.30am.

Gentle Yoga delivered by Ashbrooke Yoga takes place each Friday from 12.30om to 2pm. Suitable for all levels and abilities.

Anyone interested in booking one of the centre’s rooms can contact Denis on Tel. 07399 981281 or email [email protected]