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South Shields community lifeline facing funds crisis

CLOSURE THREAT ...staff and users of West Harton Action Station, Boldon Lane,which has been hit by a funding crisis. Action co-ordinator Louise Barbe, right.

CLOSURE THREAT ...staff and users of West Harton Action Station, Boldon Lane,which has been hit by a funding crisis. Action co-ordinator Louise Barbe, right.

A COMMUNITY base offering a lifeline to its users could be forced to close its doors if £40,000 funding is not found within the next six months.

West Harton Churches Action Station, in Boldon Lane, South Shields, offers people who would otherwise be confined to their homes a place to go to socialise and learn new skills.

But now, a lack of cash is placing the centre under threat of closure, with staff looking at various funding bids in a desperate bid to keep it open.

The centre employs four full-time members of staff as well as one part- timer and has 50 volunteers.

Each week it is used by more than 400 people of all ages, including people with learning disabilities.

It is thought funding needs to be secured by October if the centre has any chance of surviving.

Centre manager Keith Hardy said: “We do have funding applications in and we are hopeful, but if the funding doesn’t come through, the best case scenario we would have would be to merge with another organisation, the worst case scenario is we would have to wind it up.

“A lot of our volunteers are people who would otherwise not leave their homes for various health or mental health reasons but they do come out to attend the centre, so for them to lose something like this would have a huge impact on their lives.”

As well as numeracy and literacy courses, the centre also offers family history sessions, craft activities, digital photographs, self-care courses and computer classes.

The centre also carries out work in the community, teaching people how to use mobile phones, laptops and computers.

People looking for jobs are also supported with help with their CVs and job searches.

Louise Barbe, action co-ordinator at the centre, said: “If this was to close, it would be complete devastation for those who use the centre.

“Over the last four years we have had at least 20 people who have come here, completed courses and have gone on into employment, and these are people who have been unemployed for long periods of time –- in one case 22 years.

“People don’t just come in here to learn, they come in just to have a chat as they know they can, and it makes them feel valued.

“If we weren’t here so many people would be isolated. I would hate to think we would no longer be able to help those who have struggled with their numeracy and literacy further, as you can really see their self-belief and esteem rise when they achieve what they set out to do.”

The centre also houses a credit union and health trainers.

For information on the centre, call 455 8122 or visit www.actionstation.org.uk

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa

 

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