Volunteer centre celebrates award despite uncertain future

A VOLUNTEER centre celebrated its success despite facing possible homelessness with the potential closure of Royston Hospital.

Royston Volunteer Centre was awarded the prestigious 2012 Inspire Mark – given to non-commercial organisations organising events inspired by the London 2012 Olympics – for four of its projects, but fears it may soon be without a permanent base in the town.

The group has had an office at the London Road site for 16 years, but the Primary Care Trust has published a report which could mean the hospital may close for three years while it is redeveloped.

Despite the problems, the centre toasted its achievements at its annual meeting, and was praised by Joseph Ballard, London 2012 Inspire programmer for the east of England.

Volunteer centre manager Denise Graham said: “We’re taking part in the consultation along with the Royston Community Transport group, which we provide volunteers for.

“We have got the support of county, district and town councillors because they see the importance of volunteering and the community transport scheme.

“They understand what could happen to us, and are asking for support in the community, which has been very positive.

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“The news of the hospital closing didn’t spoil the awards, and we’re being positive, as volunteering is at the heart of the community.

“With the consultation process now available for us we can make a plan as to what we can do.”

The volunteer centre currently pays a nominal fee to use the office, but if it is moved, the expense will increase, and it fears it could lose staff.

The group is asking people to help support them.