Community centre 'struggling to pay the bills' as lockdown bites in Doncaster

A group which helped save a Doncaster community centre in 2019 says it is stuggling to pay the bills due to lockdown.

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 2:15 pm

Residents set up an organisation to run Galsworth Community Centre in Balby after being warned it faced closure two years ago through lack of use, and that it could be converted to housing.

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They set up Balby and Hexthorpe Community Engagement as a community interest company, and were running the venue with around 600 people using it each week before lockdown.

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The official opening of the Galsworthy Close Community Centre in 2019

But after nearly a year without being able use the building for groups, they are now struggling for money, and fear they could run out of cash to pay bills.

The are not charged by St Leger Homes for rent or heat, but meet costs such as insurance, and other running expenses.

Now they are setting up a lottery to try to keep things going.

Founder Shaun Kessell said: “It is to keep the community centre going. It is has not been open normally, so we have had no funds coming in. There is about £700 left in the bank and that has to last us three or four months.

The official opening of Galsworthy Community Centre in 2019

“It costs us about £3,000 a year to keep open. It’s about paying the bills.

"None of our groups have been open since March last year. Before that we had 500-600 people using the centre a month, with a play group, craft group, bingo, and dancing.

"The lottery is very important to help keep us up and running.”

He said there was no support from the government for organisations like theirs to help with the bills they have to pay to stay open.

The centre has been used as a base for a community food bank during the pandemic, with referrals from organisations including Doncaster Council, St Leger homes, and South Yorkshire Police.

The weekly lottery has been set up with an organisation which runs online lotteries for charities, with a £25,000 top prize. The community group will get 40 per cent of the £1 cost of the ticket.

You can join through the website, https://www.balbyhexthorpecommunity.com/.

Mr Kessell said when he and his feam got involved that they wanted the community centre to help stamp out social isolation and to give the youth of the estate something to do.

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