Acacia Centre at heart of Annesley Woodhouse community

.Peter Clark centre manager of the ACACIA Centre in Annesley today
.Peter Clark centre manager of the ACACIA Centre in Annesley today

THE light, modern interior of the Acacia Centre in Annesley Woodhouse is a world away from the traditional perception of a community centre.

Offering everything from computer training, football and street dance for young people and tea dances, a café, SureStart and exercise classes, as well as its own radio station, the centre on Acacia Avenue has something for everyone.

Centre manager Peter Clarke said: “This is somewhere where there should be everything from birth to grave.”

The new centre, which has been transformed from an aging community complex, was one of the first in the district to be handed to the community under the asset transfer scheme, which allows groups rather than the local authority to run a building.

Funding from the Big Lottery and Ashfield District Council has been secured for the next three years - but the team is determined to come up with innovative ways of generating income to make it sustainable for the future - such as installing solar panels.

Peter also hopes that the unique facilities provided at the centre for disabled people, including a washroom, may offer an alternative as day care centres in the district close.

One of the success stories of the centre is the lunch club and people travel from Mansfield and Rainworth, as well as Ashfield to eat and socialise.

Peter said: “The lunch club is a real success.

“There are able-bodied and people with learning difficulties and for an hour after lunch, they play Boccia (a ball game aimed at people with disabilities).”

The centre, which can be hired out for functions or to groups in the area, offers a range of courses including jewellery making, German, audio editing and computer skills while a brand new library is due to be built onto the existing building.

Since the beginning of this year, the number of people using the centre has increased from just over 800 people to an average of around 1,300 last month.

Now Peter wants to increase the number of visitors further - and is particularly keen for young people to make use of this facility on their doorsteps.

He added: “We need the community to get in here and use it.”

One of the activities that is sure to tempt young people into the centre is the chance to broadcast live on Acacia Radio.

The centre has offered free taster courses this summer to young people who are able to train on state-of-the art equipment before being given the chance to broadcast on the station.

For more details on what the Acacia Centre has to offer, contact Mansfield 721056, visit www.theacaciacentre.co.uk, search for it on Facebook or go into the centre.