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South Shropshire charity to end management of busy community centre
09 Aug 2018
by Dani Wozencroft

A South Shropshire charity is to end it’s management of a busy community centre in Craven Arms.

Staff at The Furniture Scheme said they are very proud of the way they have built up Community Arts Sports Craven Arms (CasCA) for the last five years, but from October 1 responsibility for the Newington Way building will transfer to Halo Leisure.

Operations Manager for The Furniture Scheme, James Cooper, said: “We have had a very successful five years managing CasCA.

“We wanted to focus on the community and create a base for local people to do all sorts of things, whether it is exercise, learn a new skill or meet friends.

“We believe we have managed to do this and the building is now a bustling and vibrant place, offering a diverse range of activities and services – even helping to keep the vital local library open too.
“While we are sad to be leaving CasCA, we are confident that this change in management will bring about new opportunities and improvements to the centre and build upon the work the Furniture Scheme has carried out since 2013.”
Mr Cooper said the charity, which launched over 20 years ago as a way to help some of the most excluded members of the community, had wanted to renegotiate the terms of the lease in order to ensure the future viability of the centre.

But the landlords, Craven Arms Playing Field Association (CAPFA), decided to invite expressions of interest from anyone else who might be interested in running CasCA.

Halo Leisure, which is a registered charity and social enterprise with its headquarters in Leominster, owns 22 leisure centres across Herefordshire, Wales, Wiltshire and Shropshire.

It includes Bridgnorth Endowed Leisure Centre and Severn Centre in Highley.

Alex Haines, Halo’s Partnership Manager, said: “We are delighted to be selected as the preferred partner for the Centre.
“Our social enterprise business model and registered charity status allows us to trade for social purposes and not for profit, something which was recognised as a sign of quality and strength.

“We are excited about the partnership and the opportunity to build on the sterling work done by The Furniture Scheme. We are currently working on plans to ensure that the transition from the current operator is as smooth as possible for staff and customers.

“In the short term we aim to keep business as usual and will work with all current user groups and individuals to ensure that wherever possible we can meet their needs to ensure the Centre has a prosperous and sustainable future.”

Mr Cooper added that The Furniture Scheme will continue to carry out the work they do across south Shropshire at their other locations including a bookshop on the Square in Craven Arms and in Ludlow Rockspring Community Centre, the Warehouse, the Carpentry Workshop and Renaissance.

“We will be sad to say goodbye to the CasCA team but the Furniture Scheme will continue to offer its much needed services and new projects are on the horizon,” he added.

The Furniture Scheme was first launched to offer recycled household items but the charity now also offers computer courses, carpentry workshops and volunteering in the garden, among other things, to help build confidence.

The charity also helps prevent 201 tonnes of waste going to landfill each year and supports more than 120 people in work placements and trainee schemes each year.

For more information about The Furniture Scheme or CASCA call 01588 672847, email casca@furniturescheme.co.uk or visit http://www.furniturescheme.co.uk.