Long-awaited £500,000 community project launches in Brierley Hill

Stourbridge News: L/R - Storehouse volunteers Dave Coley and Gary Colwell. Buy photo: 191409J L/R - Storehouse volunteers Dave Coley and Gary Colwell. Buy photo: 191409J

DEVOTED members of a Brierley Hill church have spent the past two-and-a half years bringing a town centre community project to life.

The congregation at Albion Street Church have converted a former garage in Albion Street into a multi purpose state-of-the art facility which has cost a cool £500,000 to create.

Work started on the venture last January 2013, with half of the 10,800 square foot premises being transformed into the Black Country Food Bank's distribution centre.

The remaining area has been converted into a high-tech kitchen and coffee lounge, office space, welfare facilities, multi-media meeting room and an astro turf activity area.

Upstairs offers youth recreational facilities including pool and table tennis tables plus electronic games and a sound system.

Gary Colwell, a retired assistant principal of Holly Hall Academy in Dudley and one of the driving forces behind the project, said: "None of this would have been possible without the extremely generous giving of our members and others, including local businesses."

Over the last 12 months, the congregation of less than 60 raised over £100,000.

Mr Colwell added: "There's probably two generations of churchgoers who have contributed to this development."

The church initially set out to obtain car parking facilities, otherwise it would have been in danger of having to move premises.

Initially members approached the health clinic in Albion Street, but the structure of the building wasn't suitable to attention was turned to Dalziel's food distribution centre.

Mr Colwell said: "They were already thinking of moving as their premises weren't really suitable for heavy vehicles. Our approach was the spur for them to move."

Named after the story of Joseph in the Bible, the Storehouse project was driven forward by non-member Trevor Fielding who originally offered his services for a couple of weeks but instead remained for 16 months to see it through.

As a thank you for his efforts, he was invited back to 'cut the ribbon' at a special tea when the facility was launched on April 27.

The Storehouse project hasn't quite reached the finishing line. It still needs another £10,000 to heat the indoor activity area.

However community events are already being lined up. A volunteer fair will be held on Saturday June 7 and an open day will take place on Saturday June 21.

Both events will run from 10amto 2pm.

Mr Colwell said: "We are investing today in a better future for local youngsters and for those people who are now in need.

"We're not here to throw bibles at people. We're hoping to appeal to 21st century kids and to make a Christian impact within the local community. The more people who know about us, the better."

Organisations interested in using the facilities can contact Gary Colwell on 07534 809401.

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