Transfer of Community Centres – Telford and Wrekin Council
Posted on 18th May, 2019
Telford & Wrekin Council has experienced significant cuts in funding from central government and has had to make some difficult decisions in terms of how services will be delivered in the future. These decisions have been coupled with a commitment to continue to support those that are most vulnerable and to work in partnership with the community, Town and Parish Councils and Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations to continue to ensure essential services are delivered.
There is a long history of successful partnership working in the Borough and it is this long-term relationship that has enabled five Community Centres that were previously run by the Council to transfer to community management.
As part of its budget consultation in 2016, the Council made the community and partners aware that it would no longer be able to run the five Council community centres.
The council said it was looking for partners to take on the future management of these valuable community assets. At the time, the Council set aside a ‘partnership development fund’ to provide financial support to organisations that took on the delivery of services that had previously been delivered by the Council. This fund was crucial in enabling the transfer of the management of the community centres to alternative providers.
Grants were made available for a period of three years to support the organisations to develop their business model and grow their income. Organisations have been given long-term leases on the buildings which has enabled many of them to secure additional funding to carry out improvements on their centres.
The first centre transferred in November 2016 to a newly established Community Interest Company (CIC) that was set up specifically to manage the local centre.
Since then a further four centres have successfully transferred to community management with the most recent moving to another specially established CIC in April 2019.
The transfer of Brookside Central in January 2017 was supported by Stirchley & Brookside Parish Council, they have recently been able to fully hand over the management of the centre to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation – which was also set up specifically to manage the centre.
Since the centres have transferred, they have gone from strength to strength, not only providing a valuable community facility, but also many of them have started to deliver vital services that support their communities. Some examples of these services include; delivery of holiday activities programmes for families on low incomes, providing low cost meals through their cafes, provision of information advice and guidance and delivery of care support services.
The centres are well supported by local people through volunteering, fundraising and through regular and varied use of the buildings.
The Council continues to work with the organisations that run the local centres and has supported them to network with each other, as well as providing training and information relating to further funding opportunities.
These centres provide a key role in Telford & Wrekin Council’s approach to developing resilient communities.