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Durham: New centre will help in the fight against loan sharks

A new community centre developed in a former church hall in Horden, East Durham, is to give fresh impetus in the battle against loan sharks ...

A grant of nearly £500,000 from the Big Lottery has meant that the former St Mary’s Church Hall in the East Durham town of Horden has re-opened as the Horden Centennial Centre, which will support the community.

The Official Opening was performed by HM Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Sue Snowden, with a blessing by the Bishop of Jarrow the Right Revd Mark Bryant (pictured right).

The project has transformed the Hall into a resource for the whole community and a variety of activities and groups are now able to use the facilities.

The centre includes a suite of computers which will allow people to access online benefit information and make payments. It will also allow people to engage with with NE First, the Credit Union for Durham County & Gateshead, which uses the centre as a collection point every Wednesday between 9.30-10.30am.

John Barnett, Chair of the Centre and of Horden Colliery Residents‘ Association, said: “We have had a big problem for a long time with loan sharks and the only way for lesser well off people to access a decent loan is through a credit union.

“The local credit union has gone from strength to strength after being set up two and a half years ago.“

Bishop Mark said: “We are working to get church buildings in use on as many days of the week as possible and what is exciting about this project is that this centre has clearly been designed with the community in mind.

“We know how much credit unions are needed but one of the problems for them is finding buildings from which to operate.”

Though the premises still belong to the Parochial Church Council, the Centre is managed by a group of Trustees and a Management Committee.

Further details of what the Centre can offer are available at www.hordencentennialcentre.co.uk/

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