HEXHAM Community Centre is stepping up its programme as lockdown measures begin to ease.

The much-used facility, on Gilesgate, has been a vital resource during the coronavirus pandemic.

The centre's playgroup has remained open for vulnerable young children, and also for the children of key workers.

From Monday (June 1), the playgroup will once again be available to all children, which will see user numbers almost treble from six to 17.

Community centre manager Clare Mwand said staff were following government guidelines regarding hand washing, and the constant cleaning of surfaces and equipment.

In addition, a different entrance was being used to separate the play group from other parts of the site.

Over the next few weeks, the centre is planning to begin a refurbishment programme in parts of the Gilesgate building.

Earlier this year, it received a £22,000 grant from Sport England's community fund, which will go towards refurbishment of the downstairs hall, floor and toilets.

New facilities are set to include a table tennis table, carpet bowls, and sound equipment for ballroom dancing.

Families will be able to hire the hall, exclusively for use by their households to participate in different activities. It will be deep cleaned after each session.