August 27, 2008

Pounds 10k is Hall Right By Us


A TEESSIDE community centre is improving its facilities for more than 60 groups and charities thanks to a pounds 10,000 grant from UK Steel Enterprise's special Community Support Fund.

Coatham Memorial Hall is home to a wide range of organisations, including a championship-winning boxing club and a major disability support group, as well as providing classes in everything from yoga and keep fit to stop-smoking and line dancing.

The venue also supports young people in developing new business ventures.

The building, in Coatham, Redcar, was left derelict and boarded up until former steel worker Frankie Wales renovated and re-opened it eight years ago. The money from UK Steel Enterprise, the Corus subsidiary that supports new and growing businesses in steel areas, will be used to redevelop the hall's theatre and provide vital new seating.

"The hall is now a strong focus for community life and the UKSE community grant is going to make a real difference to our facilities,"

Frankie Wales, 42, explained.

"Our Boxing Club is thriving three nights a week and has produced several national champions, but we're now looking to develop our theatre facilities too which is where this money will go.

"The hall is used by all members of the community, young and old, but we have a particular interest in helping young people and keeping them out of trouble.

"Boxing is part of that, but we support young people who want to develop their own entrepreneurial ventures - we're currently working with one group on a new bike and boat hire company."

Frankie's work has been recognised with a local Community Heroes award and a trip to Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

UKSE regional manager Simon Hamilton said: "UK Steel Enterprise invests in new and growing businesses in Tees Valley, Derwentside and West Cumbria but we can also support some community projects from a special fund."

"I've been particularly impressed by the way in which Frankie is using the hall as a base for young people to develop a wide range of projects, enabling them to equip themselves with entrepreneurial and business skills."

The Redcar and Cleveland Real Opportunity Centre (ROC) uses Coatham Memorial Hall on a daily basis as a drop in centre, day resource venue and meeting place for local disabled people.

ROC manager Jane Reast said: "The UK Steel Enterprise grant is absolutely fantastic and we are particularly pleased that the money will purchase new seating for the hall.

We use the hall for meetings of almost 100 people and this will improve the facilities for everyone.

"Many of the people who use our services have some link to the steel industry, either directly or through their families, so the support from UK Steel Enterprise seems particularly appropriate."

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