Headquarters’ joy for volunteer hub

Cllr Birch hands the keys over to Steve Manwaring.
Cllr Birch hands the keys over to Steve Manwaring.

A RUN-DOWN former council office has been transformed into a headquarters for the local voluntary sector.

The leader of Hastings Borough Council, Councillor Jeremy Birch, this week handed the keys to Jackson Hall over to Steve Manwaring, the director of Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA), following a £750,000 refit.

Work on the refurbishment in Portland Place began in September, and the former housing department base is now ready to be used as a hub for local volunteer groups.

Mr Manwaring was delighted the council took the decision to hand over the building.

He told the Observer: “The development of Jackson Hall represents a real step forward for the voluntary and community sector in Hastings. Hastings Voluntary Action can now operate from modern purpose-built premises.

“In addition we are able to offer good-quality accommodation to local groups and charities whether it is a one-off meeting or permanent office space.”

That sharing of the space is seen as key to the scheme’s success - with other groups encouraged to get involved and make use of Jackson Hall rather than struggling to find somewhere elsewhere to hold meetings.

And Cllr Birch, said the local authority was only too happy to lend a helping hand.

He said: “This is a great new use for an old building.

“It was surplus to the council’s requirements but following its refurbishment it is providing HVA and other voluntary groups a much improved base to work from.

“We are looking forward to a similar project which will see the council’s Renaissance House building in St Leonards also passed to the voluntary sector to create one of the first community advice hubs in the country.

“As a council we really value our partnership with voluntary and community organisations.”