I had the privilege recently of visiting a new charity in Ashington that truly has the potential to significantly change the prospects of vulnerable local people who are going through what could only be described as difficult times in their lives.
Real Deal Plus is based in the old Ashington police station at the junction of Station Road and Park Road, providing a warm place of care and refuge, a listening ear, companionship and practical help to make a new start in life.
Those visiting the Life Centre are facing a variety of problems in their lives – fuel or food poverty, drug and alcohol misuse, unemployment or homelessness.
Staffed largely by volunteers, the centre runs a coffee drop-in service, a variety of training programmes, a community shop selling nearly new clothing or toys, offices to let, a meeting hall and even a dance studio which is available for hire.
The people behind the centre also have ambitious plans to develop a youth project based around the coffee bar, a soup kitchen and drop-in facility offering hot meals as well as the conversion of the old police station’s cells into ‘night shelter’ rooms for those unfortunate to be facing a night on the streets.
It is a laudable venture but, of course, funding is a perennial problem for charities such as Real Deal so any help anyone can give by way of donations and financial support would be more than welcome.