Leeds: £800,000 Age UK revamp plan

YOUNG AT HEART: Lewis Brown, information manager at Age UK Leeds, celebrating the centre's �500,000 refurbishment plan. PIC: Hollie Dent
YOUNG AT HEART: Lewis Brown, information manager at Age UK Leeds, celebrating the centre's �500,000 refurbishment plan. PIC: Hollie Dent
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Sandwiched between a shopping centre and churchyard in Leeds city centre you could be forgiven for not even noticing it was there.

But bosses of Age UK Leeds, set up to support people in later life, want to change all that with an eye-catching £800,000 refurb of their information centre and cafe.

A modern wood and glass extension will be the centrepiece of the changes to the little-known Grade II listed building on Mark Lane in the city centre that was bought from St John’s Church in 1994.

Internally a mezzanine level will create a first floor, with a sparkling new IT suite to offer computer lessons.

Lifts and ramps will keep everything accessible for those with disabilities, and the Four Seasons Cafe will be prominently displayed to the passing public with tables and chairs set out by floor to ceiling windows on the ground floor.

There are even plans to take advantage of the neighbouring churchyard by installing benches for visitors to sit out on a sunny day.

For now though, the Mark Lane services will ‘go mobile’ as the building will have to close for six months.

The Four Seasons Cafe shuts today, with all offices due to be locked up on Friday, July 29.

A portable cabin will be installed on site at Mark Lane so staff can continue to help visitors.

But most supporters and customers will be encouraged to use the charity’s telephone information line, or to drop-in on one of the mobile advice sessions that will be held around the city.

Lewis Brown, Age UK Leeds’ information manager, welcomed the changes, explaining that more than half of funding had been raised by way of business grants.

He said: “This money will let us refurbish the entire building.

“People think that we are part of the church or simply do not know we are here. It will open up our services to a much wider audience.”

Under the changes, Age UK Leeds’ offices on nearby Woodhouse Lane will eventually close and staff and offices moved across to the Mark Lane site, bringing the total number of employees there to 20.

Jackie Bolland, Age UK Leeds’ director of community services, added: “We have got to start looking at providing more modern services for people in later life.

“[The information centre] really should be lovely when it’s finished.

“It will also save us a lot on rent with the closure of Woodhouse Lane.”

Age UK Leeds helps around 3,000 people aged over 50 each year with advice and information whether that be on money matters, consumer issues, or helping someone find a trustworthy tradesman.

The charity also offers gas and electricity tariffs, house and car insurance and fitness classes.

During the building work, neighbourhood network schemes will be taken to the people of Belle Isle, Moor Allerton, Bramley, Halton Park, Farnley and Cross Gates to name but a few areas.

For more information call Age UK Leeds on (0113) 3893004.

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