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New project turning derelict scout hut into community workshop hopes to help the most vulnerable in Horsforth


Horsforth Shed volunteer, Peter Gillions

By Ryan Cumberworth

A Horsforth group that’s renovating a derelict scout hut to make it into a community centre is just £5,000 off its fundraising target in order to get the building up and running in Spring 2020.

The aim is to use the new building at St James Church to host workshops that could help reduce isolation and loneliness, and support those facing mental health issues.

A total of £40,000 has already been raised towards the target of £45,000 through grants and donations. And volunteers have donated the equivalent of £20,000 in time and labour to help convert the old scout hut.

New doors and flooring have been fitted, a kitchen area created and work done on plumbing and electrics.

A further £11,000 will be needed to kit out the workshop.

Horsforth town councillor Jonathon Taylor said: “I think this is a fantastic community programme run by volunteers.

“The long term ambitions for the group is something that we need here in Horsforth.”

Most of the work has been undertaken by skilled volunteers who rely on donations from members of the public and grants to fund the renovation costs.

Private companies have also donated their services and products.

Activities that will take place here range from practical skills such as woodwork and simply the experience of sharing knowledge to help support the most vulnerable in Horsforth.

Peter Gillions, one of the individuals who started the programme, realised the potential a disused building could have in making a positive impact on his local community.

He said: “It’s been something I’ve had on my mind for a number of years.

“I think it’s going to serve the community in a number of ways, we can help with issues like social exclusion, loneliness and help people struggling with mental health issues.”

The volunteers have received grants from Horsforth Town Council amounting to £1,500 and two councillors, Dawn Collins and Jackie Shemilt, through the community committee were able to secure a grant of £5,000 to help with renovation costs.

Volunteers from the programme suggested the possibility of visiting Horsforth High School to help those at risk of exclusion and equip them with practical skills to make them employable.

Mr Taylor said: “Outreach programmes like this meet the needs of everybody, I’m sure when it does open it will be a fantastic asset to Horsforth.”

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