£215k lottery lifeline for Lancaster community centre

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Skerton Community Centre has been given a lifeline after being awarded more than £200,000 in lottery funding.

The Big Lottery fund – Reaching Communities awarded the centre £215,218, which means the centre can remain open at its full capacity for a further three years, providing groups and activities for more than 350 people a week.

The centre has been a valuable part of community life for 20 years and is almost fully booked seven days a week.

Part of the money will pay for four part-time members of staff to help run existing groups as well as set up new groups.

New groups include the Kinship Carers – a support group for people who are caring for relatives’ children full time as the relatives cannot care for their children themselves for a variety of different reasons. These carers are quite often grandparents, but not always. Kinship Carers is a free group providing weekly support for both carers and children, with trips out in the school holidays.

Another new activity will be a free computer course for older people who want learn or improve their skills on ipads or computer. The first of these courses is fully booked, but there will be other courses later in the year

Existing weekly groups include two youth groups ( ages eight to 14, and 11-18), a homework club, a cooks club for young people, a garden club, the Autumn Club – with members aged 55-95 – where people have a home cooked meal, play bingo and have several trips out a year, twice weekly table tennis for the over 50s, a women’s craft group, rainbows, brownies and guides, Boys’ Brigade and Girls Association, a toddler group and a Karate class. Young people also get to go on a five-day outdoor activity residential once a year in the summer holidays. The centre can also be hired out for private parties at weekends, with use of a fully equipped kitchen & enough space in the hall for a bouncy castle.

Elaine Corless, a trustee, volunteer and member of the Kinship Carers group, said: “Without this funding we couldn’t reach out to the community and engage them in all the activities we do. I have been here as a volunteer and trustee for 20 years, and have seen so many people benefit from coming to the centre.

“Older people feel less isolated, and a useful part of the community by volunteering, or just socialising and having a laugh. And I have seen so many young people become well rounded adults who then send their own kids here to benefit from all we can offer them”

Part of the money will be spent on extending the garage, doubling its current size and converting it into a craft room whilst connecting it through to the centre.

“The extra space will mean more groups can use the centre, as currently we are frequently having to turn people away who want to use the centre as their facilities are being closed down due to council cutbacks” said Ally Mackenzie, one of the project workers funded by the lottery money.