Rev Kate Boardman is keen for St Mark and St Cuthbert Church, in Quarry Lane, South Shields, to once again become a thriving focal point of the Cleadon Park estate as it celebrates its 50th anniversary year.
Thanks to a newly refurbished kitchen, this summer she hopes to run a holiday club to help struggling parents feed their kids and also launch a monthly OAP lunch club.
The new kitchen, which cost just over £3,300 and was funded through donations and church funds, was finished just before Christmas.
Rev Boardman said: “This is not about getting bums on seats in my Sunday morning services, which would also be wonderful, it’s about giving the community its own welcoming place.
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“For the last two summers, we have run a community holiday club in the six-week school holiday, to provide food and activities for local children, albeit without hot food, because they attracted more children than we could cater for.
“But this will now hopefully change due to our new kitchen, and we hope to reach out to older people living in The Lonnen and host a monthly lunch club too, as many residents are isolated.”
In its past, the hall has hosted the youth centre, play groups and elderly lunch club, none of which currently happen.
The new church leadership, in partnership with the Children’s Centre, with Ridgeway Primary, local police, youth work team, council and external support organisations such as Age Concern, are intending to restart all of these projects.
Rev Boardman said: “When I’ve spotted parents playing with their little ones I’ve been running over to them asking if we put a play group on during these times would they come.
“I’ve also been hanging out with the ‘tweens’ who sit in the park, they don’t want much, they just want a place to go that’s warm.
“But to do all this, especially with a potential youth club, I will need assistance and volunteers, I can’t just open the doors and allow 20 teenagers to flock in.”
A funding bid of £50,000 has now just been submitted to the SUEZ Community Trust to remove asbestos, replace heating, windows and roofing, and improve accessibility.
External work will need additional funding.
Rev Boardman added: “I think people sometimes get fed up hearing about things which don’t quite happen.
“But we’re determined all of these projects will.”
Any volunteer for children, youth or elderly friends projects would be welcomed – please contact [email protected] or 455 4682 for more information.