FEATURE: £500k makeover for Howlands as it toasts 65th year

Picture by Allan McKenzie/YWNG - 14/07/17 - Press - Howlands Centre Re-Opening - Dewsbury, England - Amanda Cunoosamy, Barry Stevenson, Kevin Keogh, Sam Cullingworth, Debbie Hall, Tom Ellis, Steve Voke & Paula Sherriff at the re-opening of the Howlands centre.

Four years ago the Howlands centre was in limbo.

The community centre in the heart of Dewsbury had lost all its trustees.

Its facilities were also falling apart.

The future did not exactly look rosy.

But flash forward to the present day, and the centre is benefitting from a £500,000 makeover.

Not only that but it’s base is full of community groups and meetings most days.

The centre, situated on School Street, underwent a major revamp thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

The charity is celebrating its 65th year and for manager Deborah Hall, she is delighted to have witnessed the recent transformation.

It is a place close to Deborah’s heart and somewhere she has spent the past 18 years working.

“After being here for so long it would have been such a shame to see it go,” Deborah of those dark days.

“It is remarkable to think that four years ago we had lost all our trustees and it was debatable whether or not we could continue.

“But with the full support of the members and volunteers, a new board of trustees was elected and the charity was turned around.

“A more professional outlook was taken in promoting ourselves and to creating income.

“Tom Ellis, who took over the role as chair at the beginning of 2014, did a lot of work with Cath Longley and myself on the lottery bid.

Howlands manager Deborah Hall.

“We were supported all the way through the process by our dedicated members, volunteers and staff.”

Today the charity, which has three members of staff and over 20 volunteers, is benefitting from the aforementioned makeover.

“We’ve had new lighting, new heating, better security and it’s just improved the feel of the place,” said Deborah.

“The building had it’s work clothes on so to speak, and it needed updating.”

The services on offer at the centre are also unique, says Deborah.

“We offer a personalised service and our projects are tailor-made.

“It’s not your typical centre where the same activities are held each week.”

Despite the funding boost, Deborah says that the centre still has a constant battle to keep the books balanced.

She added: “It’s a constant strain to keep our funding, because it’s very important for a place like us.

“We’ve got some ideas for future fundraising which we will be putting together very soon.”

For more information or to contact the centre, visit howlands.org.uk.

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