Clock is ticking on Leeds community hub plan

Members of 'OPAL pictured in 2012 celebrating their 100th tea dance. Pictured Aileen Foltyn, 78, and Brian Lake, 87.

Members of 'OPAL pictured in 2012 celebrating their 100th tea dance. Pictured Aileen Foltyn, 78, and Brian Lake, 87.

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A charity has appealed for the public’s help to raise extra cash as time runs out on its bid to turn a pub into a community centre.

Bosses at OPAL - Older People’s Action in the Locality - have until the end of March to raise another £20,000 to buy the old Bedford Arms pub on Silk Mill Drive in Ireland Wood. The current total stands at an impressive £50,000 after the idea to create a community facility for the LS16 area first began in October last year.

OPAL’s project co-ordinator Ailsa Rhodes said: “We know if we can raise £72,000 in total then we can buy the pub. So we desperately need to find about £20,000.”

OPAL supports over 60s living in Cookridge, Ireland Wood, Tinshill, Holt Park, Adel and Bramhope and improves links with younger generations. The centre would be a much-needed new base for the charity, which currently leases an office in Holt Park but with a clause giving them just three months’ notice to leave.

As well as offering facilities for all the community, such as a cafe, gardens and a meeting room, it could allow vital access to services for residents on the Silk Mill estate - one of the city’s most deprived areas. Ailsa said there has also been interest already from community groups to hire rooms. She said: “There’s a real lack of services for the community so having that building to will give people the opportunity to start new groups. There is lots of potential. I think it would be devastating if we didn’t get it. We have this offer on the table until the end of March. We really don’t want to miss this opportunity. If we do then OPAL’s future is not secured and the potential for the community is lost.”

Councillors on the Inner North West Community Committee recently donated £10,500 to the cause.

For information phone 0113 2619103 or visit www.opal-project.org.uk, for details about how to ‘buy a brick for £50’. To donate visit www.localgiving.com/charity/opal.