Annual meeting showcases success of Barnard Castle community centre
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
A COMMUNITY centre in Barnard Castle has used its annual meeting to showcase the facilities it has to offer.
More than 20 groups attended the event at The Hub, on Shaw Bank, on Friday, June 29, which until a few years ago was struggling to keep afloat.
A shift in focus away from catering exclusively for young people has seen a major turnaround in its fortunes.
Chief executive Rachel Tweddle said: “We are now a community centre. We are not a youth centre. Everyone who comes through the door knows that, but there are still people to convince who don’t come through the door.
“The AGM (annual general meeting) was a showcase of what we do. We put on a buffet with entertainment to show the young people's achievement in music.”
The buffet included produce grown on the Veg Out in Barney farm at the back of The Hub’s grounds.
Ms Tweddle said the past year had seen the centre access about £80,000 in grants which had allowed it to appoint a new events manager, who also covers as reception host.
The appointment will free up the music teachers and coaches so that they can take on a more nurturing roll, such as guiding young musicians into joining bands.
Vicky Taylor, who took up the position recently, was astounded by the activity taking place on her first day of the job.
She said: “It is just crazy busy every day. We had a primary school in, parents and child minders, music, dance and the Games for the Brain group. All in one day.”
While footfall has grown substantially, Ms Tweddle hopes to access South Durham Enterprise Agency and other organisations, to get help with ways of increasing the centre's income.
She said: “We have not got a lot of unrestricted funds so we need to increase our relations with businesses to use our facilities for training, meetings or corporate days.
“Yes, the money is important, but so is the social impact.
“We have the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the music and the community transport – they don’t bring in a lot of money but it is important. We stress the social side of it.”
Another aspect is the way the centre works with charities and fundraising groups.
The Hub facilities were made available free of charge for a recent a gig organised by four brothers in memory of their dad who died of cancer last year.
All cash raised was given to Pancreatic Cancer Action.
Ms Tweddle said: “It is a good way of supporting a charity and we get the takings from the bar and food. The takings were really good, so much so that we will probably take some of our takings and give it towards their charity.”
Again produce from the Veg Out farm was used for the catering.
Ms Tweddle said: “We ran out of onions on the night so I had to run down and pick some more, which is really cool having it right here.”
Based on the success of the annual meeting Ms Tweddle said a similar type of event would be arranged next year.
Gainford parish councillor Lisa Johnstone, who attended the meeting, said: “Staff and volunteers work so hard and despite the obvious difficulties and tough decisions faced in managing any organisation.
“The message that I took away was that the TCR Hub is constantly moving forward, improving and, very importantly, consolidating success in order to remain sustainable.”