Paralympian and Police and Crime Commissioner officially open Uttlesford’s new Community Hub

Megan Saward got to take part in an inspirational sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust

Megan Saward got to take part in an inspirational sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have helped to transform a historic building – “barely fit for purpose” – into a vital hub, providing essential services for the district.

Guests gathered at the Old Police Station, in Stortford Road, Great Dunmow, last week to see the unveiling of the Uttlesford Community Hub, which is filled with voluntary organisations – including West Essex Mind, which secured the funds to buy the building from Essex police, who have a station in Dunmow, after it was identified for closure and sale.

Following months of work, which included replacing the boiler, moving the entrance and putting in better disabled access, the centre was ­officially opened by Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston, along with Paralympian and Boccia champion Dan Bentley.

Mr Alston said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to put something back into public use, for a purpose which is more appropriate.

“Our police are doing a great job and crime is coming down. We did not want them in a building barely fit for purpose.

“If we are going to make a difference the voluntary sector has an absolutely crucial role to play. The fact we are all here in one building is fantastic.”

West Essex Mind secured a £388,882 Government grant and a £100,000 mortgage to put towards purchasing and refurbishing the building, ­securing the future of all the ­organisations working at the centre.

Most Read

Chairman of West Essex Mind, Doug Mason, said: “The ability to buy and refurbish this building was made possible by many grants, funds and donations. The overall project was taken over by the hard work and dedication of so many people.

“I want to thank all these people for getting us where we are today.”

Part of the money was spent on turning the hub into a central part of community life by adding a cafe, with a free-to-use kitchen area. Wi-fi is next to be installed.

Kirsty Monk, business manager at Council for Voluntary Service Uttlesford (CVS), based at the 172-year-old building, said she has been dreaming of this for nearly five years.

She told the Broadcast: “The idea was to have a home for all the ­voluntary services so we can work together and offer a great service to the community.

“We already had lots of visitors but even since the signs have been up people have been stopping and seeing what it is.

“We are looking forward to a bright future and engaging with the public.”