The new owners of a community centre in South Tyneside are calling for more residents to be part of its future.
Hedworthfield Community Association is one of six venues going it alone after being handed the lease for the building from South Tyneside Council.
The move was taken after the local authority pulled its funding from community centres at the start of the financial year in a bid to save cash.
It now means the centre, on Jarrow’s Fellgate Estate, is now operating as a Community Interest Organisation and will need to raise its own funds to ensure it remains sustainable.
The new trustees, who will lead the centre into the future, will also be able to access external funding streams which were not available to the council.
Jill Charlton, who has taken on the role of centre manager alongside Christine Green, said: “As colleagues, myself and Christine Green have worked together, side by side for the last 19 years.
We are already receiving a lot of support from our amazing and vibrant groups who use the CA.Coun Geraldine Kilgour
“We have mixed emotions as we leave South Tyneside Council and would like to thank them for the great opportunities they have given us over the years.
“We have been given so much support over the last 12 months from the council, trustees, staff, local councillors and centre users to help develop and sustain our centre for the community.
“We now look forward to the exciting times ahead and we thank everyone for their continued support.”
Now, the team of trustees - which includes Alan Gibson, Kath McMullen and local ward councillors Audrey Huntley and Geraldine Kilgour - are hoping residents will get behind them as they take the venue forward.
As part of a five-year plan they aim to create an even more accessible community hub offering a diverse range of events and activities.
It will also aim to contribute to three of the strategic outcomes set out in the South Tyneside Vision:
• Better education and skills through preparing children for school and offering opportunities for lifelong learning;
• Healthier people through access to sport and healthy physical activities and educations that supports healthy lifestyles;
• Increased job through volunteering leading to employment opportunities.
Coun Kilgour said: “Exciting times are ahead following the initial publicised uncertainty regarding Hedworthfield CA. We are already receiving a lot of support from our amazing and vibrant groups who use the CA.
“We are grateful as a team, headed by Jill Charlton and Christine Green, who have risen to the challenge alongside the trustees.
“We’ve been given an opportunity but we need the support of the residents and wider community. With their support all things are possible, without them, we can’t move forward.”
For more details on the centre and what it has to offer contact 0191 5196700.