February 3, 2015 | Community News
A County Durham community centre is continuing its drive to improve the facilities it can offer to people with disabilities with the installation of a new hearing loop.
Belmont Community Centre in Durham City provides a regular meeting place for around 35 local groups, many of which have either older members or include people with hearing difficulties.
But after receiving a £2,348 grant from local employer The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, the Belmont Community Association, which runs the Centre, has installed a new hearing loop to ensure everyone’s able to hear what’s happening at their events.
And the Association is now hoping that the new hearing loop, which was fitted by local firm JPS Systems NE Ltd, and other tailored facilities will encourage more local groups which include or are aimed at people with disabilities to make use of the Centre.
Opened in 1971, Belmont Community Centre is predominantly self-funded, and covers most of its running costs by hosting everything from blood donor sessions, sports & fitness classes and mother & toddler groups through to meetings of the Durham Friendship Group, the University of the Third Age and the Women’s Institute.
New disabled bathroom facilities and an entrance ramp have been added in the last couple of years to make it easier for people with disabilities to access the Centre.
Belmont Community Association committee member Mick Bennett says: “The Centre is a very popular venue, with 35 groups meeting here on a regular basis and many others using us for one-off functions, and we’ve worked hard to ensure that it’s as accessible as possible to the whole of the community.
“Several groups including people with disabilities or special needs have raised the need for a hearing loop with us, but as with any capital project like this, finding the money to make it happen was a challenge.
“The generous support we’ve had from the Banks Community Fund has enabled us to get this project completed far more quickly than would otherwise be the case, and the feedback we’ve had from users about the difference that it’s made to their use of the Centre has been really positive.
“There are many more groups in the city that could make use of the hearing loop and other facilities we’ve put in place recently, and we’re hoping that we’ll see increasing numbers of them coming to look what we offer.”
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Durham-headquartered Banks Group, says: “The Centre is a thriving resource that is run for the benefit of the whole community, and as a local business, we’re very pleased to be backing the Association’s work in making it as accessible as possible for everyone.”
The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation, and provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects, with funding decisions made independently of the planning and project development process. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.