A community facility that runs a number of activities and sessions for a range of age groups in Pegswood is looking to strengthen its position in the community and attract more users.
Senior reporter Andrew Coulson recently visited the building to find out what is on offer.
IT does not take long to find out that Pegswood Community Hub is very important to those who come along on a regular basis.
From drama and creative writing to crafts and computers, the weekly programme helps people to improve their skills as well as enjoy a hobby or two.
Many of the 16 members of the Elderflowers over-50s group that meet on Monday mornings have been going for about 10 years. They do different keep-fit exercises, dancing and crafts, there are some interesting guest speakers and they have lunch together.
They also go on a few trips a year – the places they visited in 2013 were Bamburgh and Seahouses, Royal Quays and Heighley Gate.
Mary Wilson said: “We really look forward to coming here, because we get to catch up with each other and the exercises help with our mobility and fitness.”
Fellow member of the group, Jean Richardson, said: “Elderflowers is always a lot of fun. The exercises are quite varied and recently we’ve had someone coming in to do a Zumba session with us and someone else showed us a bit of Bollywood dancing.”
Norma Barlow added that she used to live in Pegswood, but even though she moved to Morpeth, she still comes along as much as she can because she enjoys it so much.
Margaret Kerswell has three boys – Peter, nine, John, four, and Mark, two – who all attend one or more of the sessions for children and she goes along to some the activities herself, including the Pegswood Performing Arts group.
She said: “I first went not long after it (then called Pegswood Community Project) had moved to Longhirst Road when I was pregnant with my first son for one of the lunchtime groups and I have been coming here ever since.
“It’s absolutely fantastic to have somewhere like this because everyone welcomes you and you can have a chat with them. It’s great for my boys as they are now used to seeing people of all ages and those with disabilities.
“The people in charge here have been wonderful. They helped me raise funds for the charity I set up in memory of my daughter (Jayne-Esther) who I lost when she was 11 days old.”
Pat Webb goes along to the card-craft groups on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, quilting on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and the parchment group on Thursday afternoons.
She said: “I moved to Pegswood 10 years ago and coming here was a good way to make new friends in the village. As well as the activities, it’s quite easy to go into the cafe and have a chat with people.”
There are various sessions for children, including drama on a Monday afternoon, an after-school group on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, street dance (led by a Pegswood resident) on Wednesdays and Pegswood Performing Arts on Thursday evenings.
The young members of Pegswood Performing Arts do some drama sketches, singing, dancing and relaxation exercises and they will soon be putting together a ‘claymation’ scene using computer software.
They will all be playing a part in this year’s pantomime – Little Red Riding Hood (but not as you know it) – which starts tomorrow evening.
Cameron Younger said: “I have a really good time each week and it’s always a pleasure to see my friends.”
Group leader Emma Anderson said: “Each session gives the children the chance to be creative and it’s great for their confidence, particularly with speaking in front of people.”
One of the adult members of Pegswood Performing Arts, Dave Telfer, also attends some of the IT group sessions on Monday afternoons led by Leigh Lee and Jon Robinson (there is also a computer drop-in on Friday mornings) and he is a member of the creative-writing group on Wednesdays.
He said: “At creative writing, there is no group leader and we do get distracted sometimes, but we support each other and set each other challenges every week to help develop our skills.
“New sessions are added from time to time at the hub and next week sees the start of a camcorder course run by Kevin Hope.”
Tuesday mornings are when the Piplings group meets.
Mums and their children from less than a year old until when they start nursery come along and the little ones play with toys while the adults catch up with friends and talk about any issues they are dealing with at the time.
The group has now merged with Sure Start.
The after-school group, which goes up to the age of nine, picks children up from school and takes them to the hub.
Activities include painting, cookery, games nights and Disney-themed sessions. They help to develop teamwork and improve the children’s confidence and social skills.
Sarah Millican and Bev Common from the Northumberland Youth Service run a youth drop-in on Monday evenings at the building for ages 13 to 19. The teenagers can work on their Keyfund activities, play pool, table tennis and computer games and do some arts and crafts as well as chat with their friends.
Bev said: “It’s ideal for the young people to have a venue in Pegswood that we can come along to because it’s on their doorstep.”
There are regular lunches and coffee mornings and special events such as music nights and ‘sumptuous suppers’.
Joyce Davison said: “I come along as often as I can because I really enjoy the atmosphere.”
Pegswood Community Hub is a paying-in point for the Northumberland Credit Union (NCU). Members who visit on Friday afternoons can also receive advice and fill in applications for loans.
NCU chairman Nic Best said: “As well as giving Pegswood members confidence by providing them with somewhere local to make their payments, coming here gives us a real feel for things with the members and we can talk with those paying in on behalf of others.
“If the hub wasn’t in place, it would be difficult to find somewhere else to set up a paying-in point in the village.”
In addition, there are seasonal events and activities and the building hosts a range of courses run by people from outside organisations.
A big success in recent weeks has been the improved website – www.pegswoodcom munityhub.org
More than 200 people are accessing it every day compared to 30 to 40 a day before the revamp at the start of the year.
Community hub chairman Peter Stonell said: “We offer activities and opportunities for the whole family, both individually and things they can do together, and there is an excellent support network – people here look out for each other.
“Changing our name has made a big difference because it helped us to show that we’re working for the whole village and we’ve had quite a few new people coming here over the last three months as a result of our efforts to raise our profile and the new parish notice-boards.
“We have got something we can build on for the future, but to move forward it will be important to have the backing of everyone in Pegswood.”
For more information about Pegswood Community Hub, call 01670 512185.