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North Leeds charity OPAL given cash boost for renovation project

Members of OPAL pictured back in May with Leeds Rhinos players Liam Sutcliffe and Brett Delaney with the Lord Mayor of Leeds Coun Jane Dowson, Ailsa Rhodes, centre manager, Isabel Swift, from Lemon Balm at the launch of plans for the grounds of the new Welcome In.
Members of OPAL pictured back in May with Leeds Rhinos players Liam Sutcliffe and Brett Delaney with the Lord Mayor of Leeds Coun Jane Dowson, Ailsa Rhodes, centre manager, Isabel Swift, from Lemon Balm at the launch of plans for the grounds of the new Welcome In.
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Bosses at north Leeds charity OPAL are celebrating a windfall from local councillors to help them renovate a much-needed room at their new headquarters.

The charity - Older People Action in the Locality - has been given a £10,000 by the Outer North West Area Committee towards a £75,000 project to revamp an empty space at the Welcome In centre in Ireland Wood.

It is hoped the room, once brought up to scratch, will open up the building to be used by more community groups and provide further income for the charity.

OPAL is a voluntary organisation set up in January 2002 to reduce isolation for local residents aged over 60.

It bought the run-down former Bedford Arms pub in 2015 for its new headquarters and in the hope of turning it into a new community hub for people of all ages.

Sally-Ann Notley, deputy manager, said: “We have part of the building renovated and the community cafe and lunch clubs are running from there and we use the bar area for exercise classes and external groups but we have a large back room which needs renovating and upgrading. We get a lot of interest from community groups wanting to use the space. It’s so important - it will complete the building

She added: “It’s great to have this lump sum, which takes us to the £30,000 mark which we’re really pleased about. We hopefully will get the next lot of money and hope to be able to commence renovation in spring next year.”

Coun Barry Anderson (Con, Adel and Wharfedale) said: “I am very pleased that OPAL have been able to secure this money from the Area Committee. Whilst it is only a proportion of what they need, it helps to attract other match funding towards the project.

“OPAL is continuing on its ambitious programme of revamping and redeveloping the former Bedford Arms public house which has been completely changed into the “Welcome In”, headquarters and home of OPAL. The space has been carefully planned to ensure that a number of activities can take place, and also be used by other groups in the area to generate income in order to keep it running.”