Company No. 8002099
Charity No. 1156917 

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A community centre which was forced to close due to a funding crisis is now fully reopen thanks to a lottery grant of more than £100,000. 

The Romero Centre, on Laithes Lane, Athersley South, had to close from October until December, and has only fully reopened with its full range of activities this week following the Christmas break.
It follows the awarding of £110,624 to be used over two years to keep the centre open.
“We were absolutely mortified to have to close,” said Caroline Parker, who has been part of running the centre since its inception. “We’ve been here 14 years and we’ve never had to close the doors.
“We were very confident about the Big Lottery funding, but we couldn’t possibly carry on without it. We had to wait for confirmation.”

The centre had been troubled for the last couple of years since government cuts forced the council to withdraw funding, as well as other revenue streams drying up. 
But now it is on a solid footing and Caroline - joined this week by a new second member of staff Paula Richardson - is delighted.
“Our charity is called Romero Communities, and we’re a social inclusion charity, which broadly means it’s a charity which aims to support the whole community without excluding any group whatsoever.
“It’s about helping getting things going in the local area, making things happen in the community, but one of the main areas we work in is providing support and guidance. We will offer support and guidance to absolutely anybody who comes through our door.”
One of the things Caroline wanted people to understand is that Romero isn’t just there for people in absolute crisis.
“We’re here for everybody. We don’t target certain groups.
“It might just be that someone comes in and says ‘what clubs can I join?’ or ‘what activities can I get involved with?’. There might be someone who’s moved into the area and just needs a bit of support.
“We even get people coming to us because they’ve received a letter and they need some help fully understanding it.”
Caroline said while people don’t need to be in dire circumstances to call in at Romero, there have been many over the years who have been.
She recalled working over a long period with a lady who had suffered years of domestic violence.
“She had some serious family issues. She needed support and we helped her with things like filling in forms, making phone calls. She was at a very low ebb.
“We helped her with housing, getting settled, attending activities, going on courses. We don’t see her so much now, as she’s very much self-sufficient and independent.
“She still comes in to say hello sometimes though.
“Something we see an awful lot of is people who are in serious debt. We help to unpick that, and help get specialist advice.
“One of the things we can do in some cases is apply for funding for a debt relief order, and we’ve had cases where we’ve had people who are actually debt-free after a lifetime of worry about debt. That’s something we like to see.
“We can’t always resolve every issue, but what we try and do is empower people to take control of their own lives by providing information, support, and getting them the right sort of advice from specialists.
“We also try to encourage people to take part in local activities, go to college, or look for work.
“The lottery funding has allowed us to get Paula on board, and that in turn allows me to focus on the charity, to work on raising money to make us more sustainable long term after the two years.”
The centre is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9.30 to 12.30, with a range of other events taking place throughout the week including counselling sessions, AA meetings, coffee mornings and work clubs. Call in for details.

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