Lower Penarth Community Centre's desperate plea for committee volunteers

VOLUNTEERS: Lower Penarth Community Centre is appealing for volunteers for a number of key committee positions

VOLUNTEERS: Lower Penarth Community Centre is appealing for volunteers for a number of key committee positions

First published in Penarth news by

THE future of a popular community centre could be in doubt unless more volunteers step up to help run it.

Lower Penarth Community Centre is desperately appealing for new committee members in a bid to fill a number of key positions.

If key roles including chairman, treasurer and secretary, are not filled the centre will struggle to fulfil its role as a registered charity.

The knock on effect would mean clubs and classes held at the Brockhill Way community facility could also be at risk if a team of volunteers doesn't come forward.

An information session aimed at recruiting new committee members takes place next month.

Local residents are invited to join existing volunteers from 11am to 1pm on Sunday, September 7, in order to find out more about how they can help keep the much-used community centre open when, after many years of service, four key committee officers stand down at the AGM on September 25.

Because of other commitments, chairwoman Jenny Baker stands down after five years, treasurer Bryan Emery after two years and vice chairwoman Annette Davies and secretary and bookings officer Ann Whitfield both stand down after 11 years.

Dr Davies will stand for re-election as a community representative but not as an officer.

Mrs Ann Whitfield, who also leads classes at the community centre, said: “What the community centre needs now is enough people to come forward to fill the gaps left and to work with the rest of the committee to run the centre.

“If people share out the workload nobody is overloaded. People with particular skills or experience are very welcome but nobody needs to feel they already have to know how to run an organisation, in this case a charity, as plenty of training is available for volunteers who manage places like community centres. It’s a very rewarding community centre to be involved with as it’s so well used.”

She added that it was not a "crisis" but that it was a "critical point" for the community facility.

"Enough people have got to put themselves forward to be considered to form a committee," she said.

"Without that committee we will not be big enough to satisfy the Charity Commission or run the place."

The community centre was in similar danger of closing back in 2003 as there weren’t enough volunteers on the management committee to distribute the work of running the centre. Volunteers came forward to help and since then the community centre has been used by more and more people, of all ages and for many different activities.

The information session on September 7 will also provide the opportunity for members of the community, local residents and centre users to find out more about helping with day- to-day tasks needed to run the centre, if becoming a committee member is not possible for them.

For Carol Emary, who has run weekly Rainbows sessions there for the past 22 years, the centre provides an essential service for the community.

Claire Perrett is a local resident and mum to six-year-old Tilly, who attended the toddlers’ group. Claire said: “The centre keeps the community together. We would be lost without it.”

Glenys Hopkins, a retired head teacher, attends fitness classes at the community centre and said: “A lot of older people wouldn’t leave the house if they didn’t have the community centre to come to.”

Jenny Robbins regularly attends EXTEND, Mind Matters and Strength and Balance groups, and said: “The community centre brings the whole community together. It’s the best co-operative going – it helps you help yourself.”

The registered charity is run entirely by volunteers and serves all sectors of the community, with regular activities there including Strength and Balance classes for seniors; NumberSmashers (numeracy through indoor tennis) for pre-schoolers, and support groups for vulnerable adults.

Other long-standing clubs and classes based at the centre include Rainbows, Salsa, Tai-Chi, Junior Karate and Brownies, and there is currently a waiting list for new classes hoping to be held at the centre.

Charity concerts and Christmas shows are held each year and local residents and community centre users joined in 20th anniversary celebrations of the centre in 2012.

For more information about the information session on September 7 or about the community centre and how you can help, contact Ann Whitfield, the Lower Penarth Community Association secretary on ann.m.whitfield@btinternet.com or 029 20703449.

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