A MUCH-LOVED community building celebrates its second birthday this week.

The Miners Lamp Community Cafe & Hub opened in April 2019 and saw its first birthday celebrations curtailed by lockdown.

The charity, which operates out of Eastwoods Park, will reopen on its second anniversary - April 23 - providing a takeaway service.

The Friends of Eastwoods Park, which owns and operates the Miners Lamp, achieved charitable status at the end of 2018 and worked with Northumberland County Council to revitalise the once semi-derelict former bowls pavilion.

The venue won ‘Best New Project’ in the Love Northumberland Awards of 2019.

Despite lockdown, the Miners Lamp has continued as a vital resource for many people facing financial insecurity and food poverty, by providing food parcels and fresh produce through their pay-as-you-feel market.

The hub, which secured over £30,000 of funding from organisations to upscale its food redistribution programme during the pandemic, redistributed nearly 28 tonnes of food between March and December 2020 and is set to top that figure in 2021 with nearly 10 tonnes of food already redistributed in the first three months of 2021. The Miners Lamp collects food from supermarkets, such as Tesco and Aldi, as well as from the charity Fareshare which would otherwise have gone to landfill.

Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic and increase in pressure on services, The Friends of Eastwoods Park also worked with Northumberland County Council to secure Prudhoe’s first Green Flag Award for the site in September 2020.

Trustee for the Friends of Eastwoods Park, Alex Bond, said: “We’re proud of everyone in our community who has made the Miners Lamp a great success, not only our volunteers but everyone who donates to our food bank. Not only are we able to help many families facing food poverty, but also help them with school uniform items and help reduce climate change is a more holistic approach that we take in supporting people.”

While cafes have been able to offer takeaway and were able to reopen from April 12, trustees for the Friends of Eastwoods Park took the decision to remain closed.

Secretary for the Friends of Eastwoods Park and project manager for the Miners Lamp, Russ Greig, said: “It was a difficult decision to remain closed as many elderly people, families and children love the Miners Lamp, but we also had to balance the safety of our customers against the continued need for us to support people through our food bank and pay-as-you-feel market.

“As a result of the pandemic, our food bank moved to a delivery service and we saw a significant increase in requests for help. We had to take the difficult decision not to reopen for takeaway to be able to provide support to our community.

“We also wanted to reopen at the right time for us, we’ve been busy refurbishing the Miners Lamp and also installing new equipment into our cafe and we wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss another birthday during lockdown!

“The Miners Lamp has recently benefitted from a grant by Prudhoe Town Council which has enabled the charity to install new UPVC double glazing and improved heating and loft insulation, helping us to reduce climate change and our carbon footprint even more.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming back many of our customers and friends as well as many new people to the Miners Lamp and Eastwoods Park.”

Despite the Friends of Eastwoods Park not securing the purchase of the former Ebenezer Methodist Chapel, West Wylam, trustees are confident in securing more investment to build an extension to create even more capacity for the Miners Lamp.

Alex Bond added: “We know our community are behind everything we do, and we need to make sure that our little building has the capacity to deliver what we want to achieve for our community.

“We’re looking forward to a bright future for the Miners Lamp and the programs we hope to deliver in the future.”