New activity hub in Leigh Park opens in a bid to forge tighter community ties

FOUNDERS of a new activity hub have tabled ambitions to gel broken communities together and fix the ‘myriad’ of problems left in society following the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 11:19 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 3:13 pm

The Bank Community Space has finally opened to the public from its new headquarters in Park Parade, Leigh Park.

Set up by 13ANK Community Interest Company, the hub has been designed to provide a space for a diverse ranges of groups.

Everything from craft and art therapy groups, holistic treatments and children’s clubs to legal surgeries and LGBTQ support networks are given their own space within the centre.

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Opening of BANKcommunitySPACE, a community hub that 13ANK's FoodBank Po9 and other projects can run from support homeless, isolated, LGBTQ+ groups. Art therapy, holistic, legal surgeries. Pictured is grand opening. Picture: Sam Stephenson

Darren McKenna, director of the company, wanted the new facility to provide a space for communities that often are overlooked.

And he hoped it would act as a glue to unite these communities to mutually support one another.

‘This is about empowering people and building a sense of community,’ he said.

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Pictured is Michelle Smith and Darren McKenna. Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘We have got a myriad of problems and we can fix these by working together.

‘The only way we can do that is by making a community that feels like a “real” community.’

As well all the groups that are given a space, the centre also offers a place for the homeless to access support and advice.

The community has already shown its support of the centre, with businesses and individuals donating their time and equipment to kit it out.

Pictured is Roxy Barber and Pauline Smith, centre manager. Picture: Sam Stephenson

Inside, the space runs an innovative ‘pay it forward scheme’ to support those less well off.

Acting like a donation, people can choose to overpay for items at the hub’s cafe, with this overpayment being left on a special notice board.

This pre-paid cash can then be used by anyone lacking enough money to buy a sandwich or meal.

‘This is about creating that real community atmosphere and getting people to want to support those more in need,’ added Darren.

‘It’s been really successful. People really enjoy doing their bit.’

The centre was officially opened earlier this month and is already fully booked.

Pauline Smith, general manager, said: ‘It’s been a real success. We’re already realising that this space is too small because everyone wants to get involved.’

Darren added: ‘There’s been a real buzz so far. There is a love vibe from all of this. People come out of here enthusiastic and hopeful. It’s fantastic.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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