Clayhanger Community Centre – what future?

Back in October 2012, Clayhanger proudly announced that it had a Community Centre. Saved from certain demolition, the former George and Dragon public house was leased by Walsall Council to a team of Clayhanger residents determined to make the building work for the young people of the community.

Almost 4 years on, after hard work, dedication and sacrifice, the funds have run dry and the original team of directors are left over-stretched and in need of help. A public meeting was called therefore, to present the current situation and determine what the future may bring for Clayhanger Community Centre.

As ever, directors Karen Johnson, Karen Hollender, Becky Bryan and Lisa Taylor are cheerful and welcoming. The numbers in attendance are encouraging but not overwhelming. Karen explains that having run the centre for several years with financial support from Rosie’s Helping hands, the money is due to run out in September as Rosie’s is disbanding and support promised by Walsall Voluntary Action has not been kept. Clayhanger Community Centre (CCC) has relied on this funding to pay the running costs of keeping the building open and very little is made from the clubs and groups who use the building.

Confirmed by Laura Terry and Labour Cllr Steve Wade, Area Partnership and Walsall Council have offered some funding and the directors would gratefully receive this money which is intended to cover running costs and some maintainence over the next 12 months. The main concern is that the building is being underused. Admirably, the directors would not want to receive the cash offered only to find that the building is not used more widely by the community which it intends to serve.

The big question seemed to be “Would the current directors be happy to continue in post if the Community of Clayhanger stepped forward to offer help by donating time and skills to manage and promote CCC?” The answer, thankfully, was “yes.”

A good deal of helpful discussion ensued and the main points are as follows:

  • Clayhanger residents need to be made more aware of the facilities that CCC offers in terms of room hire for one off events or to run clubs;
  • A ‘checklist of requirements’ is needed so that anyone wanting to run a club or group from CCC knows exactly what is required to cover health and safety, first aid and safeguarding.
  • The directors need help with administration, marketing, fund raising and finance.
  • The loose roof tiles will only become worse over the winter and further damage will increase the cost to any repair. The roof needs fixing as a matter of urgency.
  • There is an organisation (A Stars Sports) which may be interested in using the building and grounds to run a variety of clubs for children but discussions are very much in the early stages.
  • The current funding offered would keep CCC open for a year. The situation will be reviewed again in 12 months time.
  • The AGM for CCC is in September, at which time, the directors could welcome new members onto the committee and roles defined.

Having a ‘to do’ list is all well and good and the directors are very experienced at doing what needs to be done, but that’s just the point. They have been doing it, on their own, for too long. Whilst the building needs money what is needed more is people and skills. As a prosperous village, with a demographic of managerial expertise in the workplace, there is plenty of it about. Clayhanger Community Cente could be a thriving charity. It’s rooms could be booked out seven days a week and many groups and clubs could benefit from the intimate nature of the rooms offered.

Think carefully about the skills you have – administration, finance, marketing, advertising, communication, health and safety, construction – the list is endless. Could you make a commitment to offer a few hours a month for a year to invest in your local community? Many workplaces have a policy of allowing employees paid time off to support the local community. Does your place of work offer this scheme? If it does, take advantage.

It was heartening to see that, as well as making suggestions, there were offers of practical help from those in attendance. More is needed though and the more help and support there is, the easier the load will be.

The coming year is full of promise and exciting times for the Community Centre in Clayhanger. Be part of it, make history, give something back.

To get in touch with the directors at CCC, link to the Facebook page or use the form below.

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