Originally built in 1926 as a Miner Welfare Hall, and once known locally as the Welfare, the Greenhills Centre stands on 8 acres of land just off the main road in Wheatley Hill, a village of 3,500 people in east Durham.
Following the closure of the local colliery in 1970, the hall became known as the Community Centre. Lack of funding led to rapid deterioration of the building, and it was eventually taken over by the former Easington District Council, who set up a management committee to manage the rundown facility.
1997 marked a turning point in the fortunes of the building. Community Centre volunteers, supported by the Parish Council and Easington District Council together managed to fundraise over £2m from Lottery Funds, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Barclays and many other small grant providers. Together these funds were used to regenerate the centre, and to extend and refurbish the building and grounds. New facilities were installed, including a modern fully equipped Fitness Suite, Café, Large Function Room, Meeting and Training Rooms. Outside, a Community Garden, Multi-use Games Arena, Football Pitch and Children’s Play Park were all established in the extensive grounds.
In 2004 a full repair and insurance lease was granted by the Council and the Community Centre was incorporated. Income is generated from hiring charges, the gym, a successful café and grants. The building is well used with a very busy programme of events, both daytime and evenings.
The building is welcoming, decorated and maintained to a high standard, and well managed, all factors which helped the centre achieve Hallmark Level 1 standard in July 2012. The management committee are currently working towards achieving the additional standards required to secure Hallmark Level 2 recognition.
This project is typical of the many ways in which Durham Community Action is helping to raise standards and improve the performance of community buildings. We have a long history of community support, and our staff are usually only an e-mail or telephone call away to offer practical advice and support when it is most needed. As part of the Rural Communities Action Network, we can also draw on the resources and expertise of 37 like minded organisations providing help and support to communities throughout England.