The Waddington Street Centre in Durham has announced it is to mark its 40th anniversary with a series of fundraising activities to raise £40,000 to fund a much-needed new minibus.

The independent North East mental health charity, which offers a wide range of informal educational activities and support services based on individual needs and aspirations, is kicking off the next stage of activities by hosting a week-long bake sale from 28th June with cakes and other items being made and donated by staff and volunteers.

Local people will be able to enjoy their sweet treats at a pop-up seating area in front of the centre.

Having already raised almost £5,000 towards its target, The Waddington Street Centre team is planning a number of other projects including a Pre-Loved Sale at the next-door United Reform Church in August and is appealing for donations for the event, which will also help promote sustainability.

Businesses are also encouraged to support the fundraising challenge with donations of goods and services being requested from organisations across the area for a raffle to be held later in the year.

The Waddington Street Centre is also working with a number of local business supporters on fundraising initiatives, including the developers of Milburngate, which in conjunction with contractor Tolent, funded and completed a makeover of the centre during lockdown.

One of their bigger fundraising events will see a team of keen athletes from the centre attempt to complete a long-distance triathlon, which will take place in Seaham in September.

Assistant manager Steve Wakefield, finance officer, Claire McGrother and centre member David Davies will take on the running leg of the challenge, while Trustee Jeff Dean and his partner Annette Morris will tackle the cycling before handing over to housing coordinator Sam Mason who will complete the swimming leg.

The team has selected Seaham as the location for the triathlon because it is a special place for members of The Waddington Street Centre who enjoy visiting the coast.

Getting out and about can have a significant positive impact on people’s mental health and, with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the opportunity to arrange more trips away from the centre after a year of lockdowns is at the heart of the fundraising efforts and the need for a new minibus.

Centre manager Ali Lee, who is also a professional artist and will be selling small pieces of artwork for a suggested donation of £40 per piece on her social media pages throughout July, August and September, said: “Everyone involved in the centre is really excited about this fundraising campaign, which will mark our 40th anniversary of supporting local people.

“We’re hoping to have a lot of fun on our way to hitting our £40,000 target and are grateful for all the donations, fundraising and support we’re getting that will help us buy a new minibus.

“Many of the people who are supported by the centre are socially isolated and struggle to use public transport and, as a result, travelling to and from social or educational locations can be challenging.

“A minibus would be a wonderful addition to our resources. It would allow our members to get out and about with supportive, like-minded people, and would help improve their mental health by increasing their self-esteem and confidence while alleviating their feelings of social isolation.”

Allan Cook, managing director of Arlington Real Estate, the joint venture developer of Milburngate, said: “Waddington Street Centre has been serving vulnerable people within the community for four decades, which is a milestone worth celebrating.

“We’re really keen to continue our support for the centre and have some exciting plans for a unique fundraising event later in the summer, which we’re keeping under wraps for now, but willhopefully contribute greatly to the overall fundraising challenge.”

The centre has set up a fundraising page where people can make donations at

www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/Waddys40thAnniversary

For more information about the centre visit: https://www.waddingtoncentre.co.uk/.