Volunteers and ex-offenders who transformed a derelict building into a community centre have been given a cash boost to celebrate the launch of the new facility.
Over the last 12 months the formerly derelict Darnall Community Development Centre has been renovated by former criminals in partnership with South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company as part of their community payback.
The centre is soon to be relaunched and is set to include a snooker room, coffee shop, vintage shop, joinery workshop, meeting room and barbers shop - all underneath the existing Empire Boxing and Fitness Gym.
In recognition of their efforts, the group behind the renovation has become the first organisation in the country to receive a grant through the Big Lottery Fund’s Celebrate programme.
The £1, 200 cash windfall will be used to organise a celebration event for all of the community to mark the relaunch of the centre when it is ready for opening.
Lucy Carr, director of Darnall Community Development Centre, paid tribute to everyone who helped to transform the facility.
She added: “We are absolutely delighted that our application was successful, and to be the first project in England to receive a grant.
“Everyone has pulled together and we have a lot of people to thank for their hard work, especially the community payback offenders from South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company for renovating the centre.
“With this grant not only can we can turn their celebration idea into a reality, but we can also showcase our new facility to our local community.”
No date has yet been set for the celebration event and relaunch but the group is currently in the planning stage for it.
The Celebrate scheme was launched after research by the Big Lottery Fund revealed that 63 per cent of respondents to a survey said that they had never joined together to celebrate an event in their community.
There is £5 million worth of grants set to be handed out across the UK through the scheme.
Peter Ainsworth, UK chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said it was important to give people the chance to celebrate their hard work.
He added: “Celebrate is all about giving people the opportunity to mark something important to their neighbourhood, and the Darnall centre is a great example of people coming together to benefit the local community.
“The celebration of a once-derelict building transformed into a venue for local people is a brilliant first project.
“Congratulations to everyone involved.”