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River of Life church to the rescue of community centre

By Sammi Nice

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There is optimism for the future of a Haverhill community centre after it was bought by a local church.

As reported in last week’s Echo, ownership of the Chalkstone Community Centre was transferred from St Edmundsbury Borough Council to the River of Life Community Church on May 6.

Despite some concerns at the way the deal was handled by the borough council, the move has been met with widespread optimism.

Paul Turner, founder and senior pastor at the River of Life Community Church, hailed the move as a turning point and expressed his hopes that the centre would now be able to increase the services it offers and the hours it remains open. “We used to meet there as a church,” said Mr Turner. “We outgrew it and the congregation now meets at Castle Manor Academy. “We believe the building should stay in the community and so, when we heard the building had been offered to a couple of groups, it seemed a pity not to use it to its maximum effect.

“We don’t have any immediate plans to use it as a church building though. We made a point of contacting all the groups who use the centre before we made any decisions. We want to work with them and want to include them in the management of the building so they can have influence over our decisions.”

The borough council began looking for community groups to take on the centre as early as 2009. Haverhill Town Council was approached but did not feel able to take the building on.

Mr Turner said that the church would be looking to attract more groups to use the centre and that they would be looking to improve the facilities by re-decorating, improving the kitchen facilities and getting faster broadband.

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