Funding boost breathes new life into centre

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PLANS to develop a Pegswood building into a place that offers something for everyone can continue after it received a major funding boost.

New activities will be added at Pegswood Community Project (PCP) following its successful grant application for £32,000 to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT).

The money will allow centre manager Tracy Machnicki to work four days a week from April, up from three days a week currently, and it will fund the salaries of three children’s workers who run out-of-school clubs.

And now it has some breathing space for a year, the staff and volunteers can work on attracting new faces to the building in Longhirst Road.

Miss Machnicki, who was appointed to the role in February last year, said: “We were told to have a Plan B because only a limited number of applications would be successful so it was fantastic to hear that we had got the grant.

“As well as allowing our children’s workers to continue what they are doing, it will give me more time to develop the courses and activities we offer, build up relationships with parents and users and try to get more people coming here.

“We can now make a bigger effort to overcome the perception in some people’s minds that our building is only for disadvantaged people, as we’re working towards making this a community building, which is here for everyone and not just a select few.

“There is a good mix of skills among our staff and volunteers and I know we will do very well in the future.

“We’re also working together on joint projects with other organisations, such as Pegswood Children’s Centre, Pegswood Welfare and Pegswood First School, and this approach will benefit everyone in the village.”

PCP was known as The Open Project when it was set up by Morpeth Social Services in 1991 at Bolsover Terrace, with funding support from Welbeck Estates.

It moved to its current premises in 2004 and started to run courses and activities for adults and children thanks to grants from a number of sources.

Today the provision ranges from employability sessions and computing to quilting and Zumba.

New programmes for the coming year include family financing, helping parents to deal with changing and difficult behaviour from their children as they grow up, a drop-in for teenagers to discuss issues which matter to them and a kids’ drama club.

Tom Graham has been a PCP director since the move to the Longhirst Road building and he is currently Vice Chairman.

“Having Tracy here four days a week instead of three will make a big difference in our efforts to move forward as a community building,” he said.

“Getting the grant is fantastic for us, but we can’t rest on our laurels and we’re already looking for other funding opportunities for future years.”

Financial support for 2012/13 is also being provided by Pegswood Parish Council. Its grant of £4,500 is a reduction from an initial award of £9,500, as £5,000 of the PCP’s bid was for core costs and these were covered by the CRT funding.

For more information about what is available at the centre telephone 01670 512185.