Community hub opens in style

pic salvation army hub
pic salvation army hub

After a whirlwind demolition, rebuild and renovation of two church buildings in just two months, a community hub for people in Heckmondwike is to re-open tomorrow.

The old Salvation Army community building in Barrack Street was razed to the ground last year, and a brand new state-of-the art community hub now stands in its place.

Before work began, the church ran a successful preschool playgroup and luncheon club from the building, but neither could take place on days when the other ran.

Corps officer Major Sharen Furlong said: “Our preschool group ran four days a week and luncheon club once a week. The kitchen and toilet facilities on site were inadequate for these ventures and our church wanted to rectify this.

“The Salvation Army has a long history of working to support vulnerable people and change lives within communities. To ensure we could enhance this work and commence further activities to support the community, we had to ensure all areas of our buildings were accessible and that all were safeguarded.”

The new building has separate entrances on the upper floor for the pre-school – away from community activities downstairs – as well as a private outdoor play area. Downstairs, the building has been fitted with a catering standard kitchen which can provide meals for up to 80 people.

The church’s meeting hall has also received a facelift, with new decor, central heating and a kitchenette, while a derelict flat above it has been converted into a spacious meeting room for teenagers.

Sharen added: “Not only was it vital for us to meet with current accessibility legislation, we wanted The Salvation Army to be a hub for the community – a place where they can come to feel safe, welcomed, supported and at home.”

The corps also runs friendship clubs for the over-60s, men and women, as well as Bible classes and music rehearsals. It provides food parcels for people in need throughout the year, as well as toys and food parcels to struggling families at Christmas. Just before Christmas 2012, thieves stole toys and food from the building, but the community response following an appeal in the Guardian meant the stock was replenished within days.

Church members are now looking to plan new ventures including parenting classes, a parent-and-toddler group and fun, craft-based church service for families.