Local action saves Lostwithiel Community Centre from closure

A photograph of four female members of the Zumba Club that is hosted at Lostwithiel Community Centre. They are each holding blow-up guitars and saxophones, and all wearing workout outfits and trainers - ready for Zumba.
CHAOS Radio - Zumba Club at Lostwithiel Community Centre

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A community centre in Lostwithiel has been saved from closure thanks to the ‘fantastic’ nature of its local people, writes Tom Howe. Lostwithiel Community Centre

Community members, dedicated advocates for the centre, and potential investors came together for an evening of debate regarding the venue’s future on January 17.

The community centre, impacted severely by the pandemic, energy crisis, and an ageing structure, was at risk of closure by the end of 2024.

However, the incredible reaction of people in the town has created a brighter outlook, with a calendar of events to look forward to including a 12 hour dance-a-thon and a pantomime. 

Lostwithiel Community Centre manager, Kirsty Mitchell, told CHAOS Radio: “We had a meeting because we were really afraid. We are talking about big money to repair the roof et cetera. We were on our last legs and we really needed help from the community to keep us going. 

“We thought it fair to let the whole community know about it. What came out of it was brilliant. We have set out a few things and how we are going to try and get out of this, and are now looking at a rota for people and the community to come in and man the centre.

“I have volunteered myself for a 12-hour dance-a-thon. If Sophie Ellis-Bextor can do it for 24 hours then I can do it for 12. What’s lovely is, on the back of that, teachers from our arts and Taekwondo classes have asked to take part. We’re gonna do Mamma Mia workshops, a Beauty and the Beast theatre, some Taekwondo, stretching and some Strictly as well.

“We have had a couple of people that have said they would like to help out with some other events, too. That is the biggest thing for me because I think that can actually set us up [for the future]. If we can set all this in motion with the community then we are going to be alright.”

The centre provides a hub for the community with different events and classes now being held seven days a week, with the majority promoting activity, well-being and mental health.

Sessions as diverse as pilates, wood turning and blood donation as well as sound therapy, basketball and playgroups mean there is something for people of all ages to enjoy. 

However, whilst celebrating new energy around the centre, Mitchell was quick to remember that the building requires tender, loving care to ensure it’s a usable space for years to come. 

“More people are coming into the centre and talking to us which is lovely,” she continued. “They are giving us their ideas and that’s just it, it is their community centre, not mine. I’m just honoured to run it. I want their ideas and we now have quite a few. 

“That is what the community is like here and what it means. Everybody pulling together and showing fantastic support in the town. It would be absolutely disastrous to have [closed] but there is no way I’m gonna let that happen. I am going to fight and dance my way to survival. 

“We have got to have some sort of security, though. The repairs are a big thing that we are trying to work on and that can set us up for the next 40 years. We need some capital and revenue for every day but also to make repairs to the roof, windows and things like that.”

For further information, including a full timetable of events and relevant contact details, visit https://www.lostwithielcommunitycentre.org.uk/