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INTERVIEW: Lancaster community centre launches £20,000 fundraising drive

Charles Tyrer, chief executive of the Gregson, with Cat Smith MP and other supporters of the centre at its 40th birthday party last weekend

A Lancaster community centre has marked its 40th birthday by launching a campaign to raise £20,000 to ensure its future.

The Gregson Centre - Lancaster’s oldest community and cultural hub - has called on local people to help preserve it for decades to come.

The money will help the Moor Lane centre to break even this year.

The centre celebrated its 40th birthday as a community-led charity with a series of events over the weekend.

Built in 1889, the Gregson has been owned by the community via the independent charity - the Gregson Community Association -  for the last 40 years. In the charity's 40th year, they are launching a fundraising campaign to raise £20,000 in vital funds amidst the cost of living crisis to ensure the charity breaks even this year.

Charles Tyrer, chief executive officer of the Gregson (pictured below), visited Beyond Radio to launch the campaign.

LISTEN to our interview with Charles

It feels like the Gregson is thriving at the moment," he said.

"We are supported by over 100 volunteers and have over 50 community and arts groups that call the Gregson Centre home as well as a brilliant one-off events programme.”

In the last year, the Gregson has also developed partnerships with organisations including the NHS, Lancaster University and key cultural events like the Music Festival which allows the centre to deliver projects responding to community needs.  

“After Covid and during the cost of living crisis we need vital funds to ensure the Gregson can survive,” said Charles.

Sadly, the current climate makes it really challenging for us, for example our electricity bills alone are as high as £2,500 per month - five times higher than the original budget for this year when the charity took over the direct running of the building after Covid.”

The £20,000 will ensure the charity can cover rising electricity bills, fit a more energy efficient cooler in the bar, look after all staff by paying the Living Wage or above, and continue to invest in marketing and promotion and supporting volunteers.

The charity receives no regular public subsidy which gives the community freedom to be in the driving seat when it comes to suggesting events and activities which the Gregson could host with all income ploughed back into the centre and community.

As part of the campaign to involve more people in its future, the Gregson board and members have decided to make membership of the charity free and have just launched a new supporter scheme which anyone can join from as little as £3 a month.

As a Gregson Supporter, people instantly become a member which gives them voting rights at the AGM, a monthly newsletter and a loyalty card for the café, and, in addition, Supporters will receive special discounts on Gregson events and an annual birthday gift.

One-off donations are also welcome and an Auction of Promises will be held on December 2 to add to the fundraising coffers.

To support the campaign, visit here.

The Gregson Community Association was formed in 1983 to look after the centre.

The centre was named after Henry Gregson, a former mayor of Lancaster and a local philanthropist.

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