A popular Newcastle community venue has a fresh new look thanks a four-figure grant from a regional employer.

After being awarded £5,000 from the Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, the Kingston Park Community Association took advantage of the months of lockdown to complete a much-needed upgrade to the bathroom facilities at the community centre that it runs on Brunton Lane.

New water heaters, toilets, sinks, driers and floors have been installed in the ladies’ and gents’ bathrooms, while new baby changing facilities have also been put in place in both locations.

Both bathrooms have also been completely redecorated, with local suppliers including VRB Plumbing & Heating and electrician Kevin Long being awarded the contracts for the work.

Prior to the second lockdown, the community centre had had a limited reopening, with its playgroup meeting up to three times a week in Covid-safe conditions.

Kingston Park Community Centre was built by public donation in the late 1970s and has been entirely self-funding ever since, with a team of 20 local volunteers helping to run the venue.

In normal times, it provides a home for a wide range of different activities, including yoga, karate and Zumba classes, a children’s art group, a slimming club and the local scout group.

Alison Hall of the Kingston Park Community Association, says: “We make improvements to the building where needed on an ongoing basis, but we’d become ever more aware that the bathrooms were getting in desperate need of some attention and the cost of the work required was beyond what we could afford.

“The generous support we’ve had from the Banks Group enabled us to get on with the project, and while being forced to close the building wasn’t what anyone wanted, it did at least give us the chance to get on with work required.

“The new bathrooms have really enhanced the building’s environment and they will make a huge difference to what we can offer our visitors as we eventually start to run all our clubs and activities once again.

“We spent a lot of time getting the building ready to welcome people back into it and have put a wide range of measures in place to make it as safe as we possibly could.

“It’s great to see the place being used again and everyone that’s visited so far has been really positive about the improvements we’ve made.”

Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Places like Kingston Park Community Centre and the volunteers that run them make such a positive difference to the lives of local people.

“We’re very glad to have helped Kingston Park Community Association get this much-needed work carried out and it’s very pleasing to hear how warmly it’s already been welcomed.”

Anyone interested in applying for funding should first contact the fund manager for The Banks Community Fund at the County Durham Community Foundation via fundmanager@bankscommunityfund.org.uk or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.