A COMMUNITY centre which “keeps children off the streets” has been saved from closure thanks to a £300,000 lottery grant.
The Old Quarry Adventure Playground on Knottingley’s Warwick estate has been given £299,616 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities Programme – enough to guarantee the centre’s future for the next three years.
Maggie Harris, trustee of the centre’s committee, said: “We’re absolutely deligted about the grant and that we are able to afford to stay open for the next three years.
“Because we are a voluntary charity we have to rely on voluntary funding, so without this grant we would definitely have had to close. “We don’t have any regular income but this is a big grant so we can use it to hire quality staff who can build relationships with the children over the next three years.”
The Sycamore Avenue centre – which runs art classes and play sessions for children aged between five and 16 – is run by a management committee, in partnership with local community groups, schools and Wakefield District Primary Care Trust. The committee wants to increase the number of adult classes and boost services for the disabled.
Holly Ellis, senior play worker, said: “The work we do keeps children off the streets. The centre has held the community together for more than 30 years and it’s great news that we can carry on.”
Mrs Harris added: “This grant comes in a climate where a lot of play provisions have been withdrawn.
“We have been providing for the community since 1972, which shows that our service is definitely needed in the area.
“We have around 60 children attending the centre every night, and over the summer that can rise to around 100.
“The new money will mean we can hire two extra members of staff and increase the number of children who can come to the centre.”
Charlie Watson, community development manager at the Primary Care Trust, said: “It is fantastic news that the centre will be able to stay open. The number of young people that access the service proves how valuable it is to the community.”
Paul Jones, from the Big Lottery Fund, said: “The Reaching Communities Programme is all about building stronger communities, so I am delighted we are supporting such vital organisations as this.”
The centre is free for children and open on weekdays from 3.30pm to 6pm.