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Organisation of the Year: Earsdon and Wellfield Community Association

The Earsdon and Wellfield Community Centre is a warm and welcoming community resource centre based in what was once the old village school. Many of their users come from the Earsdon and Wellfield community with others users coming from nearby Shiremoor, Blyth, New York and East and West Holywell.

The centre is open six days a week and provides regular, affordable activities for all age groups, including dance (with special sprung wooden floors), craft classes for children and young people, fitness and art groups for adults. They also hire rooms out at very accessible rates and put on annual events and fairs and a highly popular beer festival every May which regularly attracts 450+ people and is a major source of funding for the centre.

Since the association took over the running of the building, it has been developed and upgraded on the original footprint to provide five areas for community use accompanied by a new toilet block, disabled toilet, instant hot water, modern kitchen, internal decoration and much more. All these improvements have enabled diverse groups to use the centre including mental support, combating loneliness, SOB’s (Survivors of Bereavement through suicide).

The centre prides its self on encouraging and promoting small groups to start up and develop within the centre including craft classes, jewellery making, quilting, sowing, art clubs and fitness and dance. These groups are for all age ranges and are accessible to the wider community.

The centre is self-sufficient relying upon funding from room hires and special events such as race nights, children’s parties and an annual beer festival which subsequently become an annual event sponsored by local businesses and supported by numerous volunteers including local musicians. Due to the committee’s enthusiasm and commitment to volunteering the footfall has increased from to 15k to over 30k in the last eight years. They are able to enlist helpers with diverse skills to help and maintain centre and this helps manage the very small amounts of funds available to keep the centre open all day everyday if it’s needed.

They also work closely with local organisations like VODA and North Tyneside Council, hosting community events like Working With the VCS, serving as a voting venue for elections and are they are continuing to renovate the centre in response to feedback from the users.