Staff and volunteers at a popular community project supporting adults with learning disabilities are celebrating a new era as it moves away from council control.
Holder House Community Interest Company based in Whiteleas has been branching out over the years to offer service users more opportunities to learn new skills and take part in activities.
The project, run by manager Chris Convery - who was employed and funded to run the site by South Tyneside Council - also launched Saturday morning sessions and after-school clubs for youngsters.
Now, after cutting the final ties with the local authority - the scheme is now fully independent - as it expands its services into Hebburn where they have set up a secondary base at Lukes Lane Community Centre.
Mr Convery said: “We became fully independent from the council from February 1. It has been something we were looking to do for a while and now we have finally done it.
“We are all now looking to the future and building on the success we have achieved to date and as well as expanding the services we provide, also look at expanding the area which we serve.
While we are now fully independent of the council, we are still working alongside them and continue to have close links with the local authority.Chris Convery
“We still have a base at Holder House allotment site, but we also have our new place at Lukes Lane Community Centre.”
The project started out more than a decade ago offering horticulture and woodwork to adults with learning disabilities. It now provides a range of activities to both adults and young children with learning disabilities, which include sessions in cooking, arts and crafts, swimming, sports activities, computers, bowling and environmental visits. The gardening side of the project still remains.
The CIC currently employs 11 members of staff who are supported by five volunteers. The project also works alongside Boldon-based Training In Care to provide work experience to its students.
Mr Convery added: “People access the project through their personal budgets and all the money we receive gets re-invested into the project to improve service provision and into staff training.
“While we are now fully independent of the council, we are still working alongside them and continue to have close links with the local authority who have been fully supportive of the project.”
For more information on Holder House CIC and the services it provides visit www.holderhouse.co.uk