Group ‘Hope’ to buy back their old home

HOPE springs eternal for the former users of a church property - who are appealing for help in a bid to buy back their old ‘home’.

Thurnscoe charity group the Hope Centre are going all out to try and raise the £140,000 the Methodist Church demands, after putting the old chapel on Houghton Road up for sale for the second time.

It is 18 months since Hope Centre volunteers were turfed out of the premises, as Methodist bosses planned to sell to property developers Resilienti. But the sale has fallen through.

Former users Michael and Paul Atwal-Brice, along with former Hope Centre leader Steve Ellis, are seeking backers for a re-opening scheme.

The Atwal-Brices, who have adopted twin sons with epilepsy, recently launched a ‘Little Hopefuls’ support group for families of kids with disabilities, and have a mass of community plans they would like to see reach fruition.

Although a Lottery cash grant of £50,000 is possible for renovation, under the Awards for All scheme, cash for the purchase of a building is more difficult, said Michael. He said: “The community needs this centre. We could have a sensory room and volunteer schemes for all ages. There are so many families with special needs kids who are pushed to the limit. They talk to you and they’re in tears. If a backer would only come forward....”

Steve Ellis feels the Methodist Church should donate the building to the people, as villagers sponsored bricks for its erection in 1923. But a request he issued last week to “get around the table and talk” about its future has met with a stony silence.

“There have been a couple of viewings. It’s hard to make headway because much of our strength now is spent on fighting for Little Hopefuls”, added Steve.

Michael and Paul are currently locked in battle with Barnsley Council over the transport of their boys to school at Castleford. They travel there and back twice daily because their boys need individual escorts and the Council will provide only one.

“A past experience taught us it is vital to have an escort per child”, said Michael. “But so far, Barnsley Council refuse to concede to that”.