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A South Tyneside community centre has been given a new lease of life thanks to legal support and a funding boost .

The Bilton Hall Community Centre, operated by the Bilton Hall Community Trust, is now undergoing significant refurbishment after the management team at the centre successfully gained £26,000 in funding from the ASDA Foundation, and £78,000 from Sports England.

The centre, in Taunton Avenue, Jarrow, recently relaunched after being closed by South Tyneside Council in 2016. A group led by community development manager, Joanna Tuck, campaigned and relaunched the centre to support hundreds of people in the local community.

The centre runs groups and activities and provides a space for social gatherings for people of all ages, as well as providing a space for local schools to practice sports. Over 300 people a week benefit from its services.

Joanna, who originally followed her mother’s footsteps to become a volunteer at the centre, said: “This is a very exciting time for Bilton Hall as it looks forward to the future. We’ve secured extensive funding to create an even better space for the entire community to benefit from. The building work is set to be complete over the coming months which we are looking forward to.

“We are very grateful to our volunteers and to the businesses which support us. We received excellent advice from North East law firm, PG Legal, which allowed us to secure a lease on the building, setting us up for the future.”

Phil Dean, director at PG Legal said: “Bilton Hall is an outstanding organisation which is truly at the heart of the local community. We are proud to have advised on the acquisition of a Lease which in turn has allowed the centre to access a significant sum of funding. We will continue to support Joanna and the team to ensure this very important community centre keeps providing its services.”

Planning permission has now been granted to create a new £100,000 boxing studio, which will allow the centre to continue the Bilton Hall Amateur Boxing Club which was established in 1985.

Joanna continued: “The Boxing club is very important for the local community. It teaches young people about focus and discipline and gives members a great way to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.”

Formerly known as Low Simonside Community Centre, the site was earmarked for closure by South Tyneside Council in 2016, but it was saved after being taken over by a volunteer group which formed BHCT.

Originally built as a school for the Simonside Estate, it was converted to a community centre in the 1980s.

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