Beeston community wins the lottery

Community groups in Beeston are celebrating the award of a million pounds to charity Health for All for the rebuild of their Beeston Village Community Centre on St Anthony’s Drive.

Artist’s impression of the new building

The grant is towards capital costs and some revenue costs. The new two storey centre will provide state of the art facilities for groups engaging and supporting over 800 local people. The Reaching Communities grant will enable transformation of the existing one storey building, a former library, into a brand new two storey high quality facility. The new Centre will provide flexible, welcoming shared space for people to access vital support, advice and information groups and services that combat social isolation, develop skills and improve health and wellbeing. Its primary aim will be to enable local people with shared needs and interests to run their own groups and strengthen community spirit in this multi cultural area.

The present somewhat delapidated Centre, which dates back to the 1970s, fell into disuse following the relocation of the library nearby and was earmarked for demolition. Local community groups Beeston Community Forum and Better Action For Families, supported by Health for All, called on their local councillors to allow retention of the building for its redevelopment into a much needed, thriving Community centre and secured their wholehearted backing.

The current building

Health for All agreed to support the groups by taking on the lease and raising funds to make the changes needed for an accessible multi purpose Centre open to all in the local community. Use of the Centre by local community groups has grown over the past eight years from two to over twelve. The weekly packed programme includes groups and wellbeing activities for carers, children and adults with learning disabilities, family and young parent groups, Bangladeshi young people, Polish families, Chinese elders, people new to the country. Over 400 people currently benefit from the centre each week but its deteriorating physical condition inspired Health for All, again supported by the community groups and local councillors, to lead a four year journey to secure funding from the National Lottery to save this much loved and well used Centre. An extensive Community Consultation involving hundreds of people shaped the bid and the plans for the new Centre.

The Centre’s Steering Group, drawing representatives from all user groups, are looking forward to running the centre, with Health for All’s support, and doubling the number of groups and people using it. The existing Centre is due for demolition in summer 2017 with the new facility opening in early Summer 2018.

Councillor Angela Gabriel, elected member for Beeson and Holbeck ward, said :

“It’s with great delight that I welcome the success of this new Community centre, to which we will be contributing £30,000 of our Section 106 money. Who would have thought that when I and my colleagues listened to the local community and were able to save the old library from being sold and demolished, it would result in this new Community centre that Beeston has always lacked!

“Well done, Health for All and thank you Big Lottery!”

Toshal Bhatia, Health for All Healthy Communities manager said:

“The groups we support are so excited at the prospect of this new Community Centre and are really grateful to the Big Lottery and the Councillors for supporting it.

“The centre will generate all of its own income, enabling it to host groups and activities for all ages and abilities free or very low cost, welcoming all nationalities. While providing modern, flexible community space with first class facilities, it will run using an innovative model where community groups themselves are in the driving seat and feel ownership of the Centre – a genuinely community owned Centre.”

An exciting linked initiative, overseen and run initially from the Community Centre, is the development of a new Skills Hub at the rear of Cockburn School on Gypsy Lane. That project is also in the process of redeveloping disused facilities, in this case into a Skills Training Centre, Construction Shed and Horticultural area and community orchard.

Health for All is a registered charity working with grassroots community groups, with strong developed links with the communities it serves. The charity has a 25 year history of delivering successful community development, family support and holistic health improvement services in inner-city Leeds with an unrivalled knowledge of the area and the needs and priorities of its residents. Health for All believes in co-production, consultation and meaningful community engagement.

Beeston Village Community Centre is a prime example of this ethos which underpins all of the charity’s activities, projects and services.