For most of the past 18 months, our Community Centre has been used as a space for office staff, occasional visits and for co-ordinating donations to support our work with young people.
Right before the pandemic, we were working towards appointing an architect to provide options for refurbishing or rebuilding the centre. Our Board were due to make the final appointment in March 2020 – but that was, of course, scuppered by Covid.
We made a decision to wait until the pandemic had passed.
As things have progressed, the world has changed. We know that many of our room hire users have moved to online provision and our previous operating model wouldn’t be financially viable any time soon.
We have repurposed a small unit on the ground floor of our building, occupied for many years by a newsagent shop, and have used that to provide some great arts and wellbeing activities for children and young people in the evenings and school holidays. We are building on those with some new additions planned from the autumn.
As we move towards welcoming people back into the community building more often, we will be focusing on youth work and children’s activities, and will be opening when those things are most needed. This will be a big change for us; we previously had very long opening hours with all the costs of the people and facilities needed to keep the building open.
As we re-focus on the needs of children and young people, we will be developing more activities for arts, wellness, lifeskills and more – and will also have times when young people can enjoy the space more freely. We will be recruiting paid staff and volunteers to support those new projects in due course.
Those changes will mean that other things will stop. We will no longer have regular general opening hours, we will not be taking external room hire bookings for the time being and we will no longer be offering facilities for adult table tennis sessions. We have written separately to the people who will be impacted by those decisions.
As for the building itself, the redevelopment is still on hold. We will be working with young people to explore options for new activities, and that will inform the decisions on the long-term future of the building. For now, our priority is serving the young people of Doncaster in the best way we can and providing a space where they can truly belong, contribute and thrive.
We are very excited about what the future will bring.
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