Leeds charity’s plea for votes over centre plan

Ailsa Rhodes, of OPAL, with supporters outside the old Bedford Arms pub.
Ailsa Rhodes, of OPAL, with supporters outside the old Bedford Arms pub.
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Charity campaigners in north Leeds have hit their £75k fundraising target to transform a former pub into a community centre - but now need votes to secure an extra £10k for refurbishment costs.

Bosses at OPAL - Older People’s Action in the Locality - say they have been “overwhelmed” with the support from the community over their plans to buy the old Bedford Arms pub on Silk Mill Drive in Ireland Wood.

They have now raised enough money to buy the building, with the sale expected to be rubber-stamped in the next two weeks, but more cash is desperately needed to pay for the extensive renovation work.

OPAL is now one of 45 projects on a shortlist to win £10k after they applied to the Aviva Community Fund.

Project co-ordinator Ailsa Rhodes said: “We’ve already got 1,000 votes within a few days. The response is phenomenal. I think this project is really supported within the community and wider area. But we need as many people as possible to vote for us.

“There is an awful lot of work that needs doing.”

They estimate a basic renovation will cost £55,000 but to make it into a usable community centre will cost significantly more. OPAL supports over 60s in the LS16 area and the centre would be a new base for the charity as well as hosting a community cafe, gardens, meeting room and an access point to services for residents on the Silk Mill estate.

Ailsa added: “We just want to have a centre for all to enjoy.”

Voting is now open and the projects with the most votes will go through to a judging panel. Winners will be announced on June 29.

**To vote, visit https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/2467/