When 92-year-old Jimmy Rylance, the oldest surviving Westoe Miner, officially opened the Westoe Crown Community Hub in front of a crowd of the volunteers and supporters, it was to make the start of a new chapter and a more positive story for residents.
The building, which has remained dormant for five years, has become a thriving centre thanks to support and funds from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust. With a schedule of activities that has been co-designed with the local community including those that are isolated and most hard to reach, Westoe Crown Hub held great promise for the area, with the objective to bring people together and to build on the potential that they have.
With more than 90% of people living in Westoe falling within the most deprived communities in the country, the need for a hub that could bring people together to meet, learn and socialise was essential to the sustainability and future of those living in the area.
Nick Roberts, Hub Manager, says: “When you live in a community that is facing difficult times you have two choices; you can accept that you are never going to get anywhere or you can work hard to create something that people can be proud of. Thankfully, with the help of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust we have been able to focus on the latter.
“Through the community hub we have been able to bring people together to create a stronger community. We wanted a hub that people could use to develop their skills and to make new friends. Westoe is an area that we are all very passionate about, the Community Hub is at the heart of all that we do and we know that it helps us to create a legacy of hope for future generations.”
Head of Operations (England) for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Andy Lock said: “We are very pleased to have shown our support for Westoe Crown Community Hub over the years. We have followed the project closely and commend all those that have worked so hard to take it from the vision it was to the reality that it is today.
“These facilities are a real lifeline to the coalfield communities and we appreciate the efforts of those that take the time to put together and deliver a schedule of activities that can benefit the local community. The hub is certainly central to creating a very positive future for Westoe.”