Protest over proposal to close skills centre

Residents call for Hemmingwell Community and Skills Centre to be saved
Residents call for Hemmingwell Community and Skills Centre to be saved

People gathered to protest against the potential closure of a vital estate community centre.

The Evening Telegraph reported last week that the Hemmingwell Community and Skills Centre in Wellingborough could be forced to close if between £15,000 and £20,000 of funding cannot be secured by the end of March.

Simon Trundle from the Hope Project, which runs the centre, said since an introductory grant from Wellingborough Council had finished and as revenue from room hire had declined, the Hope Project had invested all it had in keeping the centre running. It costs £66,000 a year to run.

Residents who regularly use the centre, in Nest Farm Crescent, gathered there on Monday to show the strength of feeling on the estate about the potential closure.

Karen Tall, of Gannet Lane, said: “Without this centre the children could turn to crime, graffiti and everything, there will be nothing for them to do. A lot of us are quite angry. ”

Patricia Forde, of Nest Farm Crescent, said: “We need the centre for the kids. They have the youth club and there’s the holiday club.

“The centre has helped me a lot with my job search and doing my CV. Without that we would have to go all the way to town to get some help, we definitely need it nearby.

“I really love coming to the centre, I don’t know what I would do without it.”

Sheena Haggan, of Nest Farm Crescent, said: “My kids go to the youth club, they enjoy it and there’s always someone to talk to at the centre if needed. It would be a shame for the Hemmingwell if it shut, a lot of people would be at a loss without it. I would say a lot of people rely on it.”

Cathy Mulholland, chairman of Hemmingwell Residents’ Association, said the turnout for the protest had shown people wanted the centre to keep going.

She said: “We were so pleased people came out and showed their support. It was quite emotional really to see all the kids and people, it showed it’s something that’s well needed. The kids are worrying and saying ‘is the youth club going to stop?’ and ‘can’t we go into the centre any more?’. I really hope the protest does raise the profile of it. I wouldn’t like to see it close down and be boarded-up.

“A lot of work has been done on the Hemmingwell and in the Square, we have had a lot of lottery money to do the Square up and we don’t want a boarded-up building, it will take the estate back to the way it was years ago.”