North Shields centre earmarked for demolition now a thriving community facility

Jimmy Binks, Alwyn New, Phil McGrath, CEO of Cedarwood Trust, Kerry McDonald and Kayleigh Brindle. Picture by John Millard
Jimmy Binks, Alwyn New, Phil McGrath, CEO of Cedarwood Trust, Kerry McDonald and Kayleigh Brindle. Picture by John Millard

A community building saved from demolition thanks to the efforts of residents and a local charity is celebrating a successful first year.

The Cedarwood Trust, together with residents of the Meadowell Estate in North Shields, persuaded North Tyneside Council to sell them the building which had stood empty and was earmarked for demolition.

Their aim was to create a dedicated community centre.

Residents worked tirelessly with charity workers from The Cedarwood Trust to transform the once-derelict building and, within 12 short months, have created a thriving community facility which has been accessed by no fewer than 20,000 people.

As well as a dedicated centre for old people, a drop-in coffee bar and a play lab, volunteers have helped set up a dedicated 32-place nursery for local pre-school children which, manned by an experienced team of childcare professionals, already has a waiting list and is providing much-needed childcare provision on the estate.

And the efforts of the volunteers have not been confined only to the centre but have been felt across the whole estate; thanks to their hard work and determination a new play facility has been built and they have worked with the police and local authority to change parking restrictions on the estate.

Phil McGrath, chief executive at The Cedarwood Trust, said: “What we have achieved in such a short space of time is quite unthinkable and none of this could have been done without the determination and commitment of a growing group of residents and volunteers.

“Rather than relying on the local authority or charities, this active groups of residents have come together to help enhance the place in which they live; their efforts have made an undeniable difference to the lives of so many people and have helped to create a bustling centre which really is at the heart of the community.”

The Cedarwood Trust was set up as a charity 37 years ago by local residents living on the Meadowell in order to provide support to people on the estate. Until last year, it operated out of a small shop unit.

The new, larger premises have transformed the role the charity can play within the community, attracting far more volunteers and reaching out to much more people.