Plea to save Sheffield community asset

Members of Woodthorpe Development Trust outside the property on Richmond road in Sheffield they are trying to purchase  Paul David Drabble
Members of Woodthorpe Development Trust outside the property on Richmond road in Sheffield they are trying to purchase Paul David Drabble
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A Sheffield neighbourhood is set to lose its vital community hub unless funding can be found to buy the building.

Woodthorpe Development Trust opened its centre on Richmond Road 18 months ago, but the building, a former shop, is now to be sold by its owner.

Members have branded the loss of such a venture in a deprived area of the city as ‘socially dangerous’.

They recently registered the building as an asset of community value under the Community Right To Bid legislation.

However, so far they have failed to find the funding required to buy the premises.

They are now investigating the possibility of launching a public appeal to raise the cash, but time is running out.

Sandra Potesta, trust vice-chairman, said both the property’s owner and Sheffield Council had been very supportive – but the group needs money to buy the building.

She said: “Woodthorpe is a very deprived community. Things need to be done urgently here.

“Unless we get some funding, this place is going to be just another shop in another depressed area. It is socially dangerous.

“The community spirit is going to be dead. We feel, if you are looking at public benefit, it is clearly a place of public benefit. This centre is very visible. It is in a place where people can get to. They see it and know what it is, so it is very user friendly.”

Scores of people use the trust building each week for a range of activities.

Before news of the sale, there were plans in the pipeline to expand the work carried out there.

Projects include youth clubs, education and training, adult social care, health care, events for older people and access to IT.

It also has learning champions who can offer advice on adult education, training opportunities and help get people back into work.

They provide support such as finding childcare, covering travel or course costs and helping with enrolments.

The trust also works from an office nearby, but it is not suitable to host the majority of the activities presently on offer.

Sandra said: “One of the main issues in this area is loneliness and lack of aspirational activities.

“The children and young people who use our centre may not have access to computers, arts or healthy entertainment - which is what we want to provide for them.”

For now, the trust is renting on a monthly basis and needs £380,000 to buy – call 0114 265 4165 to help.