THE new manager of a thriving community centre wants even more people to know about the services it provides.

Clare Mwande, who was recently appointed manager of Hexham Community Centre, said that despite the hive of activity, the centre was still a hidden gem in the town.

Among the many weekly activities held at the Gilesgate centre are theatre group rehearsals, an art club, luncheon club, taekwondo, yoga, both Weight Watchers and Slimming World sessions and a playgroup rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Clare said: “My first job is for people to realise how busy this centre is and how much it benefits the community.

“We have a number of activities, such as an open arms project, that are integral to people’s lives, but we’re not sure how many people know that.

“There’s so many group users but, beyond them, not many people know what is going on and we need to get that message out there, which is one of my biggest challenges.”

Clare has a long history with the centre after becoming manager of the playgroup, which was rated outstanding in 2014, after a similar stint at Chollerton pre-school.

She and her team implemented significant changes to improve the fortunes of the playgroup, and she is hoping to do the same with the community centre itself.

She said “Lots of maintenance is required in the building and we want to spruce the centre up a bit.

“Building on the good work that’s already been done, we want to turn around the state of the building and make it look really good.

“We want to bring the centre back into the heart of the community and have plans to get more people using it.

“We want to target more families and are going to run more stuff, such as ceilidhs and quizzes.”