Bury community centre described as ‘vital’ announces sudden closure due to lack of funding and volunteers

Service users expressed sadness and frustration at the news the venue was shutting on social media.

A ‘vital’ community centre has announced it is to close later this month due to a lack of funding and volunteers to run it.

The Unsworth Centre in Bury is the venue for several groups, including many catering for young children and some supporting mental health well-being and sessions for older people.

The centre, in the former Unsworth library building on Sunny Bank Road, is run by Elms Bank School and the local community. It also operates as a book exchange, has public access computers and has a coffee shop.

What has the centre said about its closure?

A statement from the centre was published on Thursday (7 July) saying it would close ‘indefinitely’ from 28 July. It said: “It is with great regret that Elms Bank and Friends of the Unsworth Centre announce that the centre will close indefinitely at the end of July.

“Sadly, we have not been able to continue funding the building and there are too few volunteers to make the continued running of the site viable.

“The building remains the property of Bury Council and we hope another organisation will be able to use the building in the future. The centre will close at 2pm on Thursday, July 28.”

The Unsworth Centre is shutting at the end of July
The Unsworth Centre is shutting at the end of July
The Unsworth Centre is shutting at the end of July

The centre said rhyme time and toddle time groups would continue at St George’s church hall on Hollins Lane from 2 September.

Reacting to the closure notice, a spokesman for the Earlybird Project, who run weekly events at the centre for around 30 to 40 under-fives, said: “It’s incredibly sad to hear this news.

“We have loved delivering our creative play sessions at your centre with your wonderful volunteers and the students from Elms Bank and will be very upset to end them at the end of July.

“We hope this is only temporary and that Bury Council are actively and urgently seeking out a new tenant so we can continue with you to provide a safe and welcoming creative space for our youngest children and their families, carers and childminders.”

How have people who go to the activities there responded?

On the centre’s Facebook page, many who take part in the activities there reacted with sadness and frustration.

Andrea Claire said: “It has been great to have a hub for the community and was looking forward to continuing all the things this centre was offering with my little one who loves kaleidoscope sessions, the toys and the huge range of books. I really hope the council can do something to save this centre.

“A centre like this is key for both children and adults with communication difficulties and to support mental health.”

Jackie Murphy said: “The community needs places like the Unsworth Centre for all the various groups it provides a social setting for. We really enjoy bringing my grandchildren to the toddler sing and play sessions

Ruth Gardner said: “This makes me so sad. Really enjoyed the rhyme time and kaleidoscope sessions here with my baby boy. Bury Council I really hope you find a way to keep the centre open as it’s a great loss to the local community to see it closed.”

What have local politicians said?

Coun Joan Grimshaw, who represents Unsworth ward on Bury Council, said the library building was ‘vital’ to the district and acted as the ‘centre and meeting place for Unsworth’.

She said: “It’s a welcoming place and and lovely inside. So many groups meet there and I’m sad to hear the news of the closure.

“I’ve had a meeting with my ward colleagues, councillors Rafiq and Boroda on how we can help and the matter has been brought up with the council leadership in the hope that another group can be found to run the centre as soon as possible.”