Freshbrook Community Centre got back to business as a hub of community life on 19 April, just under eight months after it was shut down by Swindon Council after the management committee had its charitable status withdrawn.
Now with a new group of volunteers responsible for the centre working under a new constitution, the building is once more at the centre of Freshbrook and Grange Park said chairwoman Stephanie Bird. “It’s been a very steep learning curve for all the people who came forward to take on the centre. It’s a very important facility for our area and we wanted to bring it back to life.”
She thanked local councillors and council officers for their assistance in getting the building ready. “We‘ve had some difficult moments over the last few months; only a few weeks ago we were wondering if the promised refurbishments would be finished. But we have a newly decorated building, with new carpets and kitchen, it’s up to us to make the centre works again for the community.”
Volunteers spent a week clearing out 25 years of accumulated rubbish from the centre in mid-April. Vice-chair Tracy Brown said Swindon Commercial Services contractors had been very helpful. “Originally the plan was to open the centre in stages but the contractors decided to get the job done in one big push.
"Even though they were working to a tight deadline, they were doing small extra jobs for us and working around the volunteers cleaning and moving in furniture; they were brilliant.”
Unchaining the future of Freshbrook Community Centre, from left, Stephanie Bird, Tracy Brown, Nicky Howard showing off the building
Treasurer Nicky Howard said the reaction to the signs of reopening had been very positive. "Lots of people were saying how pleased they were to see signs of life in the centre when we cleaning up last week. And our open day (on 19 April) has been great. Many people have dropped in to see the newly decorated building and they’ve been impressed; its great to know how much support there is for the community centre from the people who live in this area."
The new Alpha Playgroup has already started at the community centre, Playmates toddler group and Raleigh Dog Club will reopen in a few days. The management committee hope a martial arts club, dance school and regular youth group will soon start in the building.
For details about booking a room for a group or private function, call 872919 or 07982 853539.