£500,000 grant makes new church community centre possible

Reverend Matthew Trick outside St Paul's Church

Plans are moving ahead for a £1m community centre after the church behind the project secured a major grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

St Paul's Church in Aberavon, Port Talbot, has received a £500,000 grant towards the cost of building the innovative centre in its grounds.

Once completed, the St Paul's Centre will be staffed by a community development officer and administrator, and will be a welcome boost to one of the most deprived areas in south Wales.

It will replace the existing community centre, which stands in the church grounds but is no longer fit for purpose. In addition to the staff, the centre will be supported by volunteers who can gain qualifications for their service.

The centre will have a glass front and be built around a central courtyard that will include a cafe, shop and garden.

Together with a £300,000 grant from the Welsh Government earlier this year, the church is well on its way to meeting the £1m cost of the project.

The money that has come in so far is enough to allow building work to get started in early 2014, with the project expected to be finished the following year.

Reverend Matthew Trick, the Team Vicar for Aberavon and Project Director said: "We are delighted that the Big Lottery Fund has given us this £500,000. It turns the project from a dream into a reality which will benefit the whole of the community of Aberavon.

"After securing £300,000 from the Welsh Government, we are thrilled to have achieved this additional funding which now makes the project viable.

"The community has backed this project from the start. They have told us what they need and we have designed the project around their needs."

Aberavon AM, David Rees said, "I am delighted that the Welsh Government and Big Lottery have supported this project which will provide much needed facilities in our local communities. This an investment that will make a real difference to the lives of people in Aberavon and Sandfields East."

The centre will become a major hub for the community, being made available for youth clubs, pensioner clubs, toddler groups and job clubs. It will also run basic skills courses and even hold wedding receptions.

"The educational courses will improve people's jobs prospects and the community cafe will reduce their social isolation," said Reverend Trick.

"The current facilities do not suit the current needs of the community and the idea for the new centre arose from plans to close nearby community halls.

"The heart of the St Paul's Centre is about trying to help local people improve the quality of their lives against deprivation - it will tackle deprivation by improving social skills, reducing anti social behaviour and help them to manage their money better.

"The aim is to be a gathering place for all local people who can grab a coffee in the cafe, a bargain in the shop or an activity in the hall. There really will be something for everyone –a truly whole community facility."

Ann Rees, church warden said, "This is wonderful news and will make such a difference to the community as so many groups will have somewhere really nice to meet once again – it is a much needed facility for this area."

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