472 words approx. 2 minutes to read
Stretford Public Hall is a vital part of our community but a few years ago it was at risk of closing. Without our community coming together and without the support of Co-op, it wouldn’t be the centre of the community it is today.
Community coming together
In 2013 our public hall went up for sale. We’d recently seen another Grade II building fall into disrepair after it hadn’t sold and we were desperate to avoid this happening again.
“We know what it feels like to have an incredible building left and lost.”
So with no experience, just a passion to do whatever we could to save our local space, we formed Friends of Stretford Public Hall. Initially, there was apprehension from other residents as to what our intentions were but after getting the word out hundreds of people got involved. In our first year there were over 500 volunteers!
Spaces like this can turn a community around
No one thought that the council would allow us to take over the hall but they did and we’ve never looked back. People now have pride in their community. They know that they have helped create this community centre and continue to invest in it to help it grow. We’ve even seen new businesses open up nearby so it shows that spaces like this can turn a community around.
The funding from Co-op Foundation, the Co-op’s charity, has been ground-breaking for us. We now have staff which enables the community to use the hall whenever they want, so the building is used by hundreds of people every week. We provide a wide range of activities for people aged 11 to 90. From arts and crafts to dance and yoga, chair aerobics and choir to cinema events and workshops, we’re always busy!
Continuing to grow
Our next goal is to develop a youth centre to help the young people in the area, give them somewhere to go and something to do. We’ve seen already that when young people take part in activities here they come back, some have even turned into volunteers which helps develop their skills and confidence.
We’re also going to restore the ballroom so we’re able to hold bigger capacity events. We want to make an impact on as many people in our community as possible and this will help.
We’re proud of our hall. We’re proud that it was not only saved by our community but it’s now run by the community. We know this space deserved to be saved and look at the difference we’ve made together.
We benefited from Co-op Foundations funding, and they are currently looking for spaces in communities that would thrive from support. Together with Locality, they want to save, improve and protect spaces that matter. Head to their website and tell them about the local space you want to save.
Founder Director of Friends of Stretford Hall