Acorn Centre's appeal for help after 60 years of serving community

Joseph Bulmer

Local community centres do so much to enrich the lives of residents and act as the glue that sticks our communities together.

They provide the opportunity for events, activities, sport, support, fundraisers, coffee mornings and public information.

The Acorn Centre in Torquay is a prime example of this.

It does some fabulous work, such as sessions supporting parents or guardians who have children struggling with their mental wellbeing.

This free course will be a valuable lifeline to those who attend.

The centre is in the ward I represent and has been supporting our communities since 1962.

During these 60 years it has offered a service to thousands of people and is now hoping some of its supporters can help them in return.

It wants to replace some of its old lighting with new LEDs, which will be 50 per cent more energy efficient.

It is one of the many organisations making good use of Crowdfund Torbay, which is supported by the council.

The Acorn Centre is using this platform to try and raise £3,000 for the LED lighting to help the environment and reduce the impact of fuel hikes.

It has already seen its bills increase by an extra £1,000 per month and is expecting a further 40-50 per cent increase in April.

Like so many other local community centres, the Acorn Centre is still recovering from large periods of closure caused by the pandemic.

Covid-19 hit them financially and some members of the community are still not comfortable about returning to public areas.

That has come on top of the ending of grants to community centres some years ago as part of Government austerity measures and is the reason why the council's partnership administration has made a fund of £250,000 available to invest in our local community centres.

After getting a firm grip of the council’s finances, we are using this investment to address urgent repair and maintenance works needed in our community centres across Torbay.

Over the years, the Acorn Centre has had numerous makeovers but reduced Government grants to local authorities has impacted on its funding.

As a result, it now needs significant investment just to keep the show on the road.

Like many other community centres across the Bay, we are using our investment pot to help with repairs, including roofing and heating but in addition, the centre is also doing everything it can itself to raise much-needed funds.

It’s a great cause, so please visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/new-lighting-at-acorn-to-tackle-huge-fuel-rises.

We can all do our bit to help keep facilities thriving at the heart of our communities.

The past couple of years have presented lots of challenges and support for some of our most vulnerable families has not only been available at local community centres.

A range of initiatives across Torbay has helped too, such as the provision of food vouchers and advice and support through the Torbay Community Helpline.

As a council, we have not just helped relieve some of the financial burden on families but we have also been able to provide them with opportunities and experiences to help each and every young person recognise their full potential.

In 2021, we ran a Healthy Holidays programme to ensure that children and young people in receipt of benefits-related school meals had access to food and activities over the school holiday periods in a safe environment.

I visited one of the summer sessions which took place at the Acorn Centre last year and spoke to a couple of play workers about the programme.

They told me how much the youngsters had enjoyed the activities and that the young people had made new friends and grown in confidence.

I’m pleased that we will be running the programme again during this year's Easter, summer, and Christmas school holidays.

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