A Wigan mum is launching a public appeal for residents to back her one-stop community hub as it approaches a crucial milestone.
Karen Caffrey, who founded The One House in Aspull last year in memory of her son David, says people need to use the facility or lose it as a six-month pilot period comes to an end.
Wigan Council granted Karen a lease to use the former Wigan Women’s Centre on Haigh Road and she has worked with volunteers and partner organisations to provide everything from activities combatting social isolation to help for cash-strapped parents struggling with the costs of bringing up children.
However, she has now received the community asset transfer forms, with the success of her bid ultimately deciding if The One House will become a permanent service or not.
It also looks like the community team will have to compete against other ideas for the building’s future.
With that in mind Karen is rallying the troops and wants as many people as possible in Aspull to drop in and show how much the community centre is needed.
She said: “We’ve received the forms and have to do a business plan with five-year forecasts. We’re self-funded at the moment so it will be a big challenge and I believe after that we will find out if we’ve got it or if we’ve not.
“The council has told us it is not in any rush to make a decision but clearly things are on the move.
“We just now need to make people aware it is actually working. We’re trying to get more of the community in and our message is simply support us and use it or lose it.
“If we get this permanently I think things will just prosper in Aspull. If we don’t get it we will lose a really valuable part of the community.
“We really need this community centre and the links we are creating so everyone is working together. It would be such a shame to lose it after all this hard work.”
The One House is a testament to Karen’s determination to bring some light from appalling tragedy as David took his own life after years of battling serious mental illnesses.
Having been critical of the care given to David and often felt without support Karen originally envisaged somewhere for parents to share similar experiences but the project has since grown considerably in its scale and ambition.
There are now weekly foot checks and podiatry treatments available, debt counsellors dropping in to give advice and Healthy Roots assisting with giving up smoking, improving diets and getting more exercise.
The One House is also home to a weekly knit-and-natter group whose sessions Karen describes as “absolutely chock-a-block” and there are also sessions advising residents on Universal Credit and helping them fill out the documents online.
Unemployed people can also take a step towards employment by attending training courses which give them a level three teaching assistant’s qualification.
Karen has also been helping Aspull residents on tight budgets with a fancy dress exchange for World Book Day, while other events on the calendar include a jumble sale on March 24 and a sold-out tots’ disco on March 29.
Karen is also planning further activities and community links including teaming up with Fur Clemt, which stops edible food going to landfill, to run a donation-based shop and the One House has developed close links with Aspull’s three primary schools and local churches.
The town hall said anyone who needed help with their asset transfer bids will receive it.
Penny McGinty, Wigan Council’s assistant director for corporate contracts and assets, said: “It is great news that the community asset transfer process for the former council building in Aspull is under way.
“We have received initial expressions of interest and are currently seeking formal applications and business plans for this asset.
“Advice and support for potential applicants will be available.”
To find out more, search for the One House Community Centre public group on Facebook.