‘We want to be that place where everyone can come’

Three Ways Centre, Ovenden. Dan Sutherland and the team.
Three Ways Centre, Ovenden. Dan Sutherland and the team.

A notorious former high school in Halifax is being transformed into a hub for the community.

Organisers at the Centre at Threeways, which used to be The Ridings School in Ovenden, say new funding to refurbish the site will “revitalise” the area.

The Ridings School, once dubbed Britain’s worst school, closed in 2009 after years of bad results.

The building in Nursery Lane is now being run by charity Threeways, which received £800,000 worth of funding this month.

It will include a new gym, a community growing area, office space and offer sessions to residents to learn new skills to help find work.

Calderdale councillor Dan Sutherland (Lab, Mixenden/Illingworth), chairman of the centre, said: “We want to be that place where everyone can come.

“This project has not survived by big funders, or the council coming in.

“It has survived because the community has really warmed to it.

“The school was an embarrassment to our area that really let our children down and now we have got an opportunity to have a fresh start in this building - a complete change and a revitalisation of the area.

“It will be a place where people can come to have a coffee, have a meal, do some sports, go to the gym, get something for their CV, learn some skills and ultimately a job and reinvest back into this community.”

Calderdale Council had previously approved an asset transfer of the school to the charity.

Around £20,000 has so far been spent on the gym at the site and Coun Sutherland said the majority of leftover funding would be spent on refurbishing the building.

The new gym is being managed by Halifax Rugby League star Adam Robinson.

He said: “The gym here was under-performing so I approached Threeways about getting involved and improving it.

“All the people here have really helped to get things done and now we have a gym facility that we can all be proud of.

“We can’t compete with the big chains on facilities, but we can with one-to-one support.”

Organisers said they hope the gym will be open in December. It will be split into three separate rooms including a cardiovascular suite, resistance suite and free-weights suite.

Once completed, the centre will host around 100 council staff, as well as other health and community organisations to form a support hub.

The Mayfield Trust, a charity currently based in Claremount which supports disabled people, will expand it services and run a new day centre at the refurbished site,

Carol Cockcroft, outreach manager at the charity, said: “Threeways have been fantastic with us and we are so pleased for them that they got their funding. Their vision for the site is great.

“We are hoping to provide different types of training, which all could be expanded to other organisations.

“It’s about giving people who have learning disabilities the skills rather than just training.”

There is also a Mothershare service at the centre, set up by Threeways vice chairwoman Emma Carter.

The service collects baby items including prams, toys and bottles and redistributes them on a referral basis.

Another referral service, the Greenhome Project, is also run at the site. It was started by Lawrence Fear and collects domestic applies and furniture to donate to those in need. Both services are staffed entirely by volunteers.