A damaged roof at a ‘vital’ community centre in Leicester could see it temporarily close having a ‘significant’ impact on local people.
The New Parks Community Hub has undergone repairs to the roof in the past, but over time and as a result of poor weather the damage has worsened and it now requires expensive repairs.
Leaks in the building have led to its partial closure, leaving the main room out of use due to a damp and “unsafe” ceiling.
Joanne Randall who leads the team of staff and volunteers at the centre said: “We’re kind of on our knees now because if we can’t get this sorted we’re going to lose it.”
She is among the directors of Teen Troopers Dance Academy, which leases the centre from the city council and rents it out to various local groups including faith groups and other services.
Hiring out the main room and the dance school are the biggest sources of income but as the damage worsens, the community fears it will affect the whole building and be too expensive to fix. So far, Joanne said they have been quoted more than £12,000 for the repair work.
Joanne said the damage to the roof is so severe they the hub has had to apply for planning permission from the city council.
“It’s the whole community that needs this – we’re run by the local community, for them,” Joanne said.
Joanne said staff are part-time employees on minimum wage despite often going “above and beyond” for the centre alongside a troop of volunteers.
Joanne was won the Community Action category at the LeicestershireLive Heroes Awards in 2019 as part of her work at the centre.
“This place is absolutely vital because nothing else in the area has reopened and people’s wellbeing has really suffered significantly during Covid,” she said.
New Parks Leisure Centre and the local library have not yet reopened, leaving the New Parks Community Hub as one of the only local facilities available.
New Parks Hub offers services for all ages, from newborns to the elderly and has “offered crucial support during the pandemic”.
The dance school has more than 100 attendees and supports a number of vulnerable children. ‘Team youth’ sessions offer a safe space for young people to do their schoolwork and socialise, particularly those facing “struggles” at home.
It al0so started sessions designed to help new mums in March which revealed that many local people were struggling with their mental health and financial situation due to Covid-19. As a result, a baby supplies bank and mental health support sessions were introduced.
The roof damage means the centre cannot open to full capacity. Currently, some services and classes, such as the dance school are using smaller rooms. However, they do not facilitate social distancing as safely as the main room.
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The hub team started a crowdfunding campaign to help save the building earlier this year and despite financial challenges faced in the local community due to Covid-19, they raised around £3,000.
Awaiting permission from the city council to go ahead with work, the hub team is hoping to raise enough money to save the building and ensure its services can continue to run.
You can help the New Parks Community Hub by donated to its Go Fund Me page here.