‘Much needed’ Plaistow community centre set for re-opening

A Plaistow community centre closed for refurbishment since last year is weeks away from a grand summer re-opening.

There have been some minor setbacks along the way but the St Mary the Virgin Church Centre, in St Mary’s Road, has been subject to a major �61,000 renovation.

Once completed, it will feature a permanent community and computer room, a new tea bar and a step-free ramp exit and disabled toilet.

Rector, Rev Pat Mossop, who took over the church four years ago, said they had been closely involved with voluntary groups such as The East London Communities Organisation and London Citizens.

He said: “We started before Christmas but we had a few problems, like discovering a lot of damp in the building.

“The insurance company covered that extra cost, which was about �30,000. This had been mooted before I came but it’s taken time to raise the funds.”

The project has been funded by London Over the Border Council and a grant from the Veolia environmental trust.

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Volunteers from the East London Business Alliance (ELBA) have been in and out decorating the inside and landscaping the surrounds of the site.

Befoe the work started, church members had to move the furniture every week to allow room for community activities, and then put it all back at the end of the week for church services.

The large church organ has now been removed, and a movable partition has been put in to separate the church from the community centre when required.

Community groups such as the Girls Youth Group and NCY BMX group will now have more space.

Mr Mossop said: “It’s been quite a challenge since the work started. We’ve been using the vicarage for meetings and it has been quite a squeeze.

“The centre is very much needed, with the riots that took place last year, this will be a place for young people.”

The centre will be opened on the same day as the Olympics closing ceremony - August 12. The hope is to tap into some of the optimism that will come with the Games.

McNabb Laurie, from Veolia, added: “I am sure that the additional community space and improved access will be of great benefit to local people.

“I am looking forward to seeing the centre reopened for all to enjoy.”