Chapelfields Community Centre difficulties

Social media reports are saying that the Chapelfields community centre (Sanderson House) on Bramham Road has run into management problems. There are claims that the York Council has taken over the running of the building.

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Sanderson House

The Community centre has had problems since the Council cut its grant 5 years ago

We said in 2017 that the burden being placed on volunteers to run activities at centres like Chapelfields and Foxwood was unreasonable

Part of the Chapelfields centre is now leased to “Accessible Arts” and a successful “Hub” operates at the building on Thursdays

On the other hand the number of regular events staged at the centre is limited and they are not widely publicised.

There is a Facebook page but the centres web site is rarely updated these days.

Sanderson House is potentially a fantastic asset for one of the most deprived parts of York.

Hopefully the resources will now be found to give that, and other similar, communities the support they deserve.

Community “Hubs” set to expand in York

The Foxwood Community Hub is popular

Councillors will consider next week a report outlining the achievements of several “community hubs” that were established in the City in 2017.

The hubs are located at Sanderson Court Community House, Foxwood Community Centre, Red Tower and Tang Hall Community Centre. There were similar initiatives in Clifton and Bell Farm.

More recently the Westfield school has announced it is opening a Hub and similar ventures have been promoted by JRHT and local churches.

The aim of the Hubs was primarily to promote financial inclusion. The project also delivered job fairs, volunteer development programmes and training and support for residents.

The project claims that the numbers attending a Hub are in the order of 200 a week. It is known that some residents attend more than one Hub. The Hubs are mainly serviced by, hardworking, volunteers.

The project claims to have served 9,000 meals, shared 5,460kg of food from supermarkets and redistributed up to 6 crates of apples and pears a week made available through “Abundance York”.

The CAB says it has directed 200 clients to an additional £210,000 worth of benefits.

The report sets out a bewildering proposal for “accreditation” for new centres. It seems to be a bureaucratic approach to an issue which requires flexibility. We doubt that this part of the plan will be welcomed by many of the volunteers.

The Council could also usefully provide a list of Hubs – with opening hours and facilities available – on their web site. Better use of social media to promote the initiative would be welcomed by many.

The report doesn’t give many clues as to what proportion of the target group has participated. It also singularly fails to mention that the City’s poorest area (Windsor Garth) has no Hub although there is a school building nearby.

Nevertheless, in a modest way – and particularly by providing a safety net for those suffering food poverty – the Hubs have proved to be a success and deserve continuing Council support.

Ironically the amount being spent on the Hubs is still less in total than was routinely provided to support Community Centres prior to the Labour Councils grant cuts introduced 8 years ago.

Discussion starts on grant funding of Community Centres in York

 

The report on how part of the grants for local Community Centres could be reinstated has been published.

Sanderson House community centre

Sanderson House community centre

The centres affected are located in Foxwood, Chapelfields, Bell Farm and Heworth.

A fifth – the Burton Stone Centre – was to have been sold off to a third party operator but this has fallen through. It continues – at least for the moment – to be run by Council employees, but without a volunteer user committee.

The Community Centres running cost grants (which totalled £140,000 in 2013) were stopped last year by the then Labour run Council.

It had been hoped that the new Council, having made £70,000 available to support the centres when it met in July, would allow for the reinstatement of some caretaker roles.

In turn this would have allowed the centres – which otherwise depend entirely on volunteers –  to increase their opening hours.

A report to a meeting taking place next week offers three choices for the use of the funding.  They are:

  1. The Council could retain the £70k budget with no direct grant funding to the voluntary management committees. The budget would be used to maintain the condition of the five premises enabling funds to be directed to those buildings which have the greatest identified repair and maintenance requirements.
  2. The Council could split the £70k equally across the five centres, offering them a £14k direct grant each.
  3. A combination of options A and B to provide some direct grants, whilst retaining some of the budget for the Council to contribute to the repair and maintenance liabilities. A sinking fund would also be established to allow a planned approach to asset replacement.

Option (c) would reinstate only a £4000 a year grant to each of the five centres. See below for details

Foxwood Community Centre propsed grants

The rest would be syphoned off to pay for maintenance work at the buildings which are still owned by the Council.  As landlord the Council would be responsible for these repairs anyway.

There is a suggestion that an “apprentice” be appointed   – at a cost of £10,000 – to monitor the project.

Some people already feel that there has been too much interfering by Council officials in the work of the voluntary committees which work tirelessly to run the centres. Officials seem to want to weigh volunteers down with “service level agreements” and commitments which are simply too onerous for spare time volunteers to feel comfortable with.

We hope that “no strings” grants of at least £20,000 a year can be agreed for each centre. To allow for forward planning they should be guaranteed for the duration of at least the present Council (i.e. until 2019)

A decision on the grants will be taken at a meeting on Thursday, 3rd December, 2015 4.30 pm at West Offices. Residents may make written representations to the meeting and/or may register to attend in person and speak. (Telephone – (01904) 552062 Email laura.bootland@york.gov.uk)

Acomb Police station closing for renovations

The Acomb Police station will be closed for a couple of months.

The public desk – which is manned by volunteers – is being relocated to Sanderson House Community Centre in Bramham Road, Chapelfields.

Details here

Meanwhile a survey being undertaken by Chapelfields LibDems has found that many residents feel that they don’t see a Police presence in local streets as often as in the past. Most want the Police to keep them up to date, with what is going on, through the distribution of leaflets. The main concern raised by residents is the lack of car parking provision on the estate.