This is a shining example of a charity-driven investment in community facilities that has expanded its space with help from Ashfield Building Group following the completion of the latest phase of Welcome In, near Horsforth.
This vibrant community hub came to life two years ago when Ashfield completed Phase One, transforming a disused pub to deliver the vision of OPAL, a charity that supports the over-60s to live independently, safely and healthily in an area embracing six villages and districts north-west of Leeds. We were required to completely gut the building, re-organise the interior layout and carry out structural work to internal walls in order to create a Community Café with disabled access and baby changing facilities, a drop-in advice centre, offices for OPAL and initial space for hire by community groups and small businesses. The re-development was made possible by a two-year search and fundraising campaign to secure permanent premises for OPAL.
The charity has done some fantastic fundraising work in the two years that followed the completion of Phase One. OPAL secured grants from charitable trusts and LCC Community Committees, supplemented by various fundraising activities including a Christmas Fayre and Cookridge Community Run. The cause has also been helped by OPAL’s Buy a Brick initiative which invites supporters to donate money to have their name, or the name of a loved one, on a plaque on the wall in the new facilities. The charity is now able to invest in the next project comprising a new function room which will be used for community events, private bookings and some of OPAL’s regular activities such as table tennis, tea dance, tai chi, exercise and yoga classes. The space has been completely renovated and brought up to the latest standards of building performance and energy efficiency. It features ample storage capacity, a food and drinks preparation area and extensive glazing which was also a feature on Phase One.
The room in its previous state was affectionately known by OPAL staff as ‘Siberia’ as it felt rather cold and desolate. Designed to be very bright and welcoming, the newly renovated space is called the Sunshine Room and Ashfield were tasked with ensuring that it lives up to its new name.
Pictures show the space which will be transformed by Ashfield on the new phase at Welcome In
OPAL’s move to Welcome In has enabled them to work more efficiently and effectively by consolidating many of their services into one building. It has increased their capacity and enabled them to develop new services for older people as well as create partnerships with other organisations. Welcome In provides facilities for other agencies to deliver services in the locality and creates new income streams for OPAL through room hire and community events.
Ailsa Rhodes, Project Co-Ordinator at OPAL, said:
“This phase is a significant step forward in the development of Welcome In and the creation of community space for OPAL members and for the wider community. We will be using it for functions and events and will also be able to expand the services we provide to older people in the community. It will also make the perfect space for children’s parties, funeral teas and other such events. We have already got bookings from community groups and local businesses to use it for their training sessions and staff meetings.
We have been very happy with Ashfield. As with the previous phases, they have worked to a very high standard, making sure that our needs were taken into consideration. Communication with us is excellent and I have absolute confidence in the quality of their work. I trust them! Krystian has brilliant attention to detail and looks after our best interests. Gary’s work is to the highest standard and he makes sure that everything runs smoothly on site. The contact I have had with the rest of the Ashfield team is always positive – they are supportive, effective and genuinely decent people.”
Ashfield Building Group Director, Joel Ramsden said:
“Ashfield are delighted to be given the opportunity to continue working on this much-valued amenity. Welcome In has been instrumental in supporting OPAL’s mission to offer accessible, enjoyable and enabling daytime activities for older people, to help reduce isolation and loneliness. It has also brought the wider community together, regardless of age, and we are delighted to have completed the Sunshine Room to deliver a facility that will help to further strengthen and extend community links.”