Can ‘thriving’ Hanwell Fields Community Centre be saved?

Hanwell Fields Community Centre
Hanwell Fields Community Centre
Share this article

A much-loved Banbury community centre used by hundreds of people every week could be forced to close because of a lack of volunteers.

The Hanwell Fields Community Centre, in Rotary Way, has become a vital service, providing a base for dozens of groups and children’s parties every month since it opened in 2006.

Peter Goode

Peter Goode

But those in charge have issued a stark warning that it will have to shut its doors if no new blood is found.

Current administrator 71-year-old Peter Goode, of Hanwell Fields, gave notice that he would leave the role more than two years ago - along with chairman Chris Gaynor. But so far no-one has come forward.

Peter issued a desperate plea to save the centre – saying it would be a tragedy to see it close.

“The centre has become a real asset to Hanwell Fields and is used daily by a range of community groups and families,” he said.

“Our weekly footfall is between 500 and 700 people.

“The community association members have worked hard to make it such a success but it now needs new members who can bring fresh input and energy.

“Having given notice to step down more than two years ago we really can’t keep going indefinitely and the sad reality is that if no-one comes forward we will have to close.”

A decision on the future of the centre – used by Beavers and Scouts, a dance school, youth club and parent and toddler group – will be made at the Hanwell Fields Community Association’s annual general meeting on September 14.

If no-one comes forward before then, the centre will close despite being so popular it already has to turn groups wanting to hire the solar-powered facility away.

Three people are needed to take on positions of chairman, treasurer and secretary.

They would organise and attend bi-monthly meetings, oversee the running of the centre and its staff and, in the case of the treasurer, oversee the finances.

None of the roles would take up more than two hours each week.

Peter, who has been helping to run the centre for the last nine years, added: “The fact that the centre has become such a thriving venue means that it is in a strong financial position.

“We receive three to four new enquiries every week, some of which we have to turn down because we haven’t got the staffing to meet the demand.

“We have recently installed solar panels which are also providing additional income.

“It has been incredibly rewarding to see the centre become a hub which has helped to build this new community in Banbury.

“I would urge anyone who wants to make a difference, get to know new people and get involved in their community to come forward and volunteer.”

The centre was built with donations from the estate’s developers and handed over to the Hanwell Fields Community Association in 2006.

Nearby Hanwell Fields Primary School has agreed to manage the bookings and building maintenance.

But the conditions of the lease with Cherwell District Council requires the community association to retain overall responsibility for the centre, including managing the care taking and cleaning staff, setting opening hours and charges and agreeing which groups can become regular users.

To find out more about volunteering, contact Peter on 01295 258431, or email admin@hanwell-fields.co.uk