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Keeping community spirit alive and well in Gee Cross, Greater Manchester

Posted in: Foundation

Werneth All Age Community Centre is thriving thanks to Jean Sutcliffe and her group of dedicated volunteers.

At 80 years young, I’ve had the privilege of chairing the Werneth All Age Community Centre Committee since its inception in October 2011 and I’m an enthusiastic champion for a place that the whole community enjoys.

Our community centre is based in Gee Cross, a village within the Tameside Borough of Greater Manchester. The village has a number of schools, churches and a local park, and we value our friendly, inclusive atmosphere. Due to the recession, we’ve lost our Post Office and many independent shops. This has made us even more determined to keep the community spirit alive through our centre.

"The centre became the lively, vibrant heart of our community offering activities for everyone"

We founded the centre in 2011. Tameside Manchester Borough Council had closed down Werneth House – a facility that provided support and companionship to the older community – and we requested to run a community centre without financial support from the council. This was the start of Werneth All Age Community Centre.

The centre quickly became the lively, vibrant heart of our community offering activities for everyone; from parent and toddler groups to local choirs, bingo nights, dance classes, poetry readings and so much more. However, we needed support to achieve our vision for the future.

"I realised we could achieve some of our biggest ambitions"

When I read about the Foundation Community Awards, I realised we could achieve some of our biggest ambitions. Firstly, we wanted to reintroduce the weekly Luncheon Club where housebound, elderly residents could come in for a meal and a chat, and enjoy some entertainment. To do this, we required funding for kitchen equipment, which is why the award was perfect.

In addition to this, we wanted to provide a space for local teenagers who love to ‘chill out’ (as they put it) and practice for gigs. We also wanted to set up a programme where teenagers could pass on important IT skills to older people. Creating this link between older and younger generations was really important.

"I’ve been fundraising my socks off for so long and it felt like we’d made a massive step"

I was overwhelmed when we received funding for our project. I’ve been fundraising my socks off for so long and it felt like we’d made a massive step towards achieving our vision of keeping community spirit alive in our village.

Students from Alder Community High School have already worked towards their Duke of Edinburgh Awards here, and we’ve adopted the local residential care home so residents can come in and join in our activities. We’ve also hosted Brownies and Guides and welcomed the local Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, and we’re planning much more.

It’s fair to say that, thanks to the centre and hard work of our volunteers, our community is now thriving!