Students spruce up Stanhope Community Hall

Painting and decorating students from Bishop Auckland College gave up their Easter break to spruce up a Weardale community venue.

Stanhope Community Hall group shot

Stanhope Community Hall, which has many users including a food bank and toddlers’ group, had been in need of a fresh coat of paint, but the church struggled to find the time and the funding to facilitate it.

Local Community Interest Company Trades4Care was happy to step in to offer help, in partnership with the college.

Trades4Care gives young people valuable work experience, as part of a wider life skills and employability programme, by pairing them with qualified tradespersons to work on maintenance projects at healthcare, education and community venues.

The Stanhope Community Hall makeover is the latest in a series of similar projects which have included West Lodge Care Home in Crook, Butterwick Hospice in Bishop Auckland, Stainton Village Hall in Barnard Castle and Raff Yard House at Raby Castle.

The programme is being managed by co-founders and directors of Trades4Care Andrew Coxon, Charlie Wright and Deborah Jenkins, supported by trade colleague and trusted partner Nigel Stevens.

Andrew said: “The jobs we choose are the ones that will impact the community. We only planned to do two rooms of the hall, but we have been asked to paint the kitchen and utility room as well.”

Charlie added: “We have freshened it up and modernised it using Dulux Community RePaint scheme which is available for community projects. There’s no waste and the paint is environmentally friendly.”

Michelle Andelin, Learning Area Manager for Construction and Motor Vehicle at Bishop Auckland College, paid tribute to the students who worked through their holiday: “Work experience has continued throughout the pandemic - due to the nature of the work it is easy to social distance.

“It’s much different to learning in a college; they are using what they have learnt and putting theory to practice. This is their Easter break and they are coming in to do this, we had to pick from 20 who volunteered for the job.”

The students who were selected to take part included John Brown, Cameron Southworth, Luke Moore, Mason McMeekin, Jack Gullidge and Alex Pickering.

Cameron said: “During lockdown we were doing lessons online; this hands-on experience is vital for us and it’s a chance for us to give back to the community.”

Fellow student Mason added: “We are very grateful for the experience and for the opportunity to learn on a job like this.”

Church warden Sarah Haynes was also grateful. She said: “It’s been an absolute godsend for them to do this for us. Last March we were not able to get a Covid grant due to being a church, so we have appealed to local charities for help. It’s been amazing to see the transformation and we will be able to open with a fresh new look.”

Thanks to Richard Bellis at the Northern Echo for the article: