Community centre seeks help

KEEP us open as a community centre.That was the message today from users of People at the Centre of Ipswich.They are petitioning to keep the Austin Street and Grimwade Street centres open after their two years expire at the end of the month.

By Amanda Cresswell

KEEP us open as a community centre.

That was the message today from users of People at the Centre of Ipswich.

They are petitioning to keep the Austin Street and Grimwade Street centres open after their two years expire at the end of the month.


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Some 250 users of PCI in Grimwade Street – which is opposite Suffolk College – have signed the petition arguing it is a vital service to the town.

Volunteer Pam Littlejohn, said: "Initially we received funding until the end of March this year. But we were led to believe funding was going to continue.

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"People are very upset about it."

Users argue that the PCI is a vital service to the town working as a community centre and providing information, support and advice.

Nayan Shah, 23, who works for Suffolk Interfaith Resource, said: "It helps get rid of ignorance and offers emotional support and guidance. People get to know each other here and are tolerant of each other."

PCI has centres in Austin Street, Grimwade Street and Bramford Road. But only the Bramford Road centre has been granted an extension.

When The Star visited PCI in Grimwade Street it was bustling with activity.

The centre was decorated with murals embracing all religions, arts and crafts adored the walls and music was sounding from a piano. A computer providing internet and printing facilities was available for use.

Andrew Decker, 24, who is studying Sport and Exercise Science at Suffolk College, said: "I am from Germany and use the internet here to talk to people at home and I also have friends here. It is like an extension of my family.

"Without this centre there will be nowhere to go."

The centre has helps people locally.

Jane Chambers, Ipswich councillor for the Alexandra Ward, explained: "There is a woman who lives near here who can't read or write.

"She uses this centre on most days. We didn't know how old she was, so we took her up to the record office. She found she was one year older than she thought and was owed a years worth of her pension."

Other benefits of include a community chest to help with funding for other organisations.

The Millennium Volunteers were the first group to volunteer their services and helped decorate and furnish the PCI two years ago.

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