A County Durham social club is aiming to widen its appeal to all part of the local community after installing new disabled toilet facilities.
The committee at Bede Lodge Social Club in Framwellgate Moor had started working on the project in recognition of the increasing age profile of its members and the needs of other user groups, such as the County Durham Stroke Club, the Fellowship Of The Services and the local branch of the Women’s Institute.
A fundraising campaign was instigated by the Club, which has around 450 members, to secure the £12,000 required to undertake the work required – and after subsequently winning a £5,500 grant from the County Durham-headquartered Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, it was able to commission a range of local tradespeople to carry out the project, which also includes a ramp and new baby-changing facilities.
Feedback on the work done has been extremely positive, and the Club committee is hoping that its work to address social inclusion in the area will be enhanced by what’s now available to users.
Bede Lodge Social Club has been in its present building on Finchale Road for around 40 years and provides a venue for a wide range of groups and activities, including the local Historical Vehicle Society, regular bingo nights and dance groups.
John Hinton, secretary at Bede Lodge Social Club, says: “The building in which we’re based was built more than 40 years ago, and the toilet facilities simply weren’t up to modern standards, which we could see was increasingly becoming a problem for many of our older members and users with mobility problems.
“We try to run the Club in a way which contributes towards tackling social exclusion in our area, as it’s often the case that the events that we host and run are the only ones that many of our elderly users attend, especially during the winter, and they could be discouraged from doing so if the venue doesn’t have the facilities they need.
“We didn’t have the surplus of cash in the bank required to pay for the work that needed doing, but thanks to a determined fundraising effort, the generous contribution from the Banks Group and further funding from other sources, we’ve been able to find the resources required and get the work carried out by local tradespeople who’ve all done a brilliant job.
“The new facilities are a tremendous asset and the feedback we’ve had on them from users of all ages has been fantastic, while the local planning inspector told us it was the best facility of its type that he’d seen in years.
“Our hope now is to use them as another way to reach out to the local community and make sure as many people as possible can access the activities that we host.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Bede Lodge Social Club is a vital hub for all parts of the local community, and helping it fund the installation of its new disabled toilets will enable more people to make better use of it more often, which will be to everyone’s benefit.”
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 Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.