West End Community Centre (WECC) on Mackworth Road in Derby recently received a very welcome helping hand from their neighbouring Ashbourne Road District Allotments Association.

WECC is leased by Derby City Council to a voluntary organisation known as the West End and District Community Association. This is a registered charity that runs the centre and hires it out to local groups for a range of community activities. Like many centres, they had had difficulty in getting volunteers to stand on the management committee resulting in the committee dwindling to a very small size by last year with most of the work being done by one or two people.

Last summer, the volunteer who had handled most of the day to day running of the centre left suddenly, leaving the remaining committee struggling to pick up the reigns and keep things going. Several members of the resident indoor bowls club rallied round and managed to recruit a few new members, but it was quite difficult and they discovered that the centre was in a worse financial position than they had thought.

However, help was at hand in the shape of the neighbouring allotment association – Ashbourne Road District Allotment Association, who have used the centre to hold their AGM for a number of years. They found out that the centre was in difficulty and put the word out on their Facebook page that help was required to ensure that the centre remained open as a resource for the community.

The community centre’s committee were overjoyed when their AGM was attended by a roomful of enthusiastic volunteers, several of whom agreed to stand on the management committee, to help revitalise the centre and introduce some improvements.

Councillor Amo Raju, Cabinet member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism said:

“Community centres are important social hubs and its fantastic when the local community pulls together in a situation like this, to work together and develop a stronger future for the benefit of all involved”.

Chris Dawson, who was voted on as Chair of the community association said

“I was aware that the centre was a very valuable resource for the community and was determined that we would do what we could to keep it open for the next generation.

The WECC is a fantastic resource where we want to prioritise activities and events run by and for the local community. We have had a great start with the Allotment Association and the local bowls club coming forward, but we want to build on this by encouraging local people to come forward with ideas for taking the centre forward and developing a positive future with strong community links.”

Sarah Wheatley, Derby City Council’s Community and Parks Buildings Officer said

“I knew from my colleague, the Allotments Officer, that Ashbourne Road Allotments was one of the best run allotment associations in the city, so was really pleased when I found out that they were providing some much needed expertise and enthusiasm to West End Community Centre as the volunteers there were facing a real challenge.”

Whilst the new committee has a lot of work ahead of them, they have already set up a website for the centre and are looking at applying for funding to carry out improvements that will benefit existing users and hopefully attract new ones. You can contact the centre by visiting their website at wecc.org.uk.

If you are interested in contacting the Ashbourne Road District Allotments Association you can visit their website at araa.org.uk.