A COMMUNITY centre at the heart of Sunderland’s East End is commemorating a quarter of a century of changing lives with a mosaic masterpiece, thanks to council funding.

CHANCE community centre is run by local people for local people – and it has done so since its founding in 1993. CHANCE received community chest funding from Sunderland Council which allowed it to make a mosaic with local children and artists to celebrate its 25th year of helping the local community of the East End.

Julie Maven, Centre Manager, said: “Each year we apply to the community chest, because this funding is especially important for our organisation. It allows the team to do as much as possible to help the local residents.

“We wanted to commemorate our 25th year, and the funding from the council allowed us to do just that.”

The team at CHANCE worked with local children over the summer to design a mosaic that would mark the anniversary of its founding. Local artist, Anna Glover, turned their ideas into a reality, putting together the children’s ideas to create a mosaic masterpiece that stands in CHANCE’s grounds.

Cllr Victoria O’Neil, a Labour ward councillor for the East End, said: “CHANCE’s ability to engage with local children and artists, and turn its 25th year into a project that involves the community is testimony to the organisation itself.

“The centre was founded by local women who wanted to do more to help their community – and for the last 25 years it has gone above and beyond to achieve that goal. I know myself, as someone who regularly volunteers at CHANCE, that it is a popular centre that offers an array of support services to countless residents.”

The mosaic has now been incorporated into a bench, which sits proudly at CHANCE. Its creation was part of a host projects organised by the community centre, which widens its pool of activities to support and engage with more residents across the city during holiday periods.

“We are here to help everyone in the local community, and while we’re based in the East End our reach is much further – especially during the school holidays,” said Julie. “Over the summer we arranged camping, swimming and lots of other fun activities and days out for children.

“We run everything from knitting groups to Zumba classes, pop in sessions to our changing lives meetings. Importantly, we also offer practical support and guidance to those in the community, which often involves filling out forms, advising or pointing people in the right direction if we can’t help within the centre itself.”

Beyond funding via the community chest, Hendon’s ward councillors continue to play an integral role in supporting CHANCE.

Julie said: “Our local Labour councillors, Cllrs Mordey, O’Neil and McClennan are a part of our community centre – they speak to residents, volunteer at our groups and even run a monthly drop in surgery from the centre. It’s especially great to see local children engaging with their councillors – they’re always keen to have a chat and ask lots of questions, and the councillors are always more than happy to engage.

“The Hendon Ward councillors have a visible presence in the area, which is really important,” added Julie. “It feels like they’re our biggest fans, and we are certainly theirs.”

Cllr Mordey, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council and Hendon ward councillor, said: “CHANCE is at the heart of the local community in East End, and we do what we can to support it – whether it be financially or by volunteering at their groups.

“For the last 25 years, CHANCE has been an organisation committed to helping local residents – we are delighted to be able to protect it, support it and enable its further growth. Sunderland Labour Group cares for our communities, and we want to see them grow and thrive.

“Labour will always support centres like this one – they form an integral part of the community, and we will do everything we can to preserve them.”

To find out more about CHANCE, visit http://www.chancesunderland.co.uk or call 0191 5670978