The Blakelaw Community Partnership – who set up the first community managed Post Office where the charity directly holds the franchise and 100% of the profit goes back into charity – is celebrating a new lease of life after being renamed the Newcastle Community Asset Trust NCAT.
This will give the organisation an opportunity to widen its remit and use the lessons learned to make a positive difference to other communities in Newcastle.
Renamed the ‘Newcastle Community Asset Trust’ (NCAT) the community partnership group began five years ago after taking over the running of Blakelaw Community Centre and Library from Newcastle City Council.
Following expert legal advice from Newcastle based law firm Muckle LLLP, the Blakelaw Ward Community Partnership, was originally formed by residents and Councillors, and has now developed a new model to continue building and supporting strong and sustainable public services, social enterprise and help create jobs.
The group is due to hold its official launch in February 2018 and has ambitions to expand beyond Blakelaw, as it looks to make a difference in other deprived areas of the city.
Glenn Pendleton, Executive Manager of the Newcastle Community Asset Trust, who led the transformation of the community centre and library, is proud of their success to date.
He said “We are delighted with the success of the centre so far and our unique partnership, which is going from strength to strength.”
“We have some exciting plans for the future to extend our influence across a wider community area, we have a good platform to work from and develop our community support further.
“The legal advice we have been provided by Muckle has been invaluable to us and our new direction.”
Richard Nixon, Property Lawyer, Muckle LLP, said, “Grassroots groups and partnerships can sometimes lack the resources to tackle this kind of transaction.
“We have worked with Blakelaw Ward Community Partnership since its inception and we are delighted to have helped them on their journey to date.
“It has taken five years for them to realise their vision for the community and we are pleased to have advised on their new lease agreement for the Community Centre.
“The residents, employees, volunteers and prominent members of the community have completely transformed the centre and developed it facilities significantly.”
Glenn added: “The staff and board members have been working tirelessly to make sure the residents, children and young people are at the heart of everything that we do and that services really make an impact on their lives. We firmly believe that the formulation of positive partnerships with local schools and Newcastle City Council has enabled us to fulfil our ambitions.”
The Blakelaw Centre has a weekly footfall of at 3’500 per week and their other centre Simonside Community Centre hosts over 2’000 users per week, with all services geared to working the community and making a difference.
Due to the success of the charity they have been commissioned to carry out feasibility studies on behalf of Newcastle City Council and on other community centres and libraries within the city.
The charity is also delighted to announce that they are presently working with the council and partners to asset transfer the Cowgate Centre, with a view to being fully operational by 1st April 2018.
Muckle LLP provided advice on the new lease agreement for the community centre.