Keighley residents have been warned not to take a 19-year-old community centre in town for granted for fear its services could be cut.
Ghulam Rabani, who runs the Sangat Centre in Marlborough Street, said the gloomy economic climate made the support offered by his staff and volunteers even more vital.
He emphasised the facility could not survive on “thin air”, noting that its total costs came to £250,000 last year.
“We have more than 20 staff on our payroll. Some do a few hours, some are full-time,” he said. “Our money comes from various different projects and goes up and down each year, depending on how successful we are at attracting external funding.”
Mr Rabani said he, along with his fellow staff and volunteers, were working hard to continue providing their services, but warned some costs, such as heating bills, had increased substantially.
“On average, about 500 people walk though our doors each week,” he said. “They come for advice, training, exercises classes, English language classes or sessions on computers, leadership, health and safety and first aid. All this isn’t easy to sustain, though we try and do some of our own fundraising.”
Mr Rabani has been the centre manager for ten years, but has been involved with the project since its inception. He said many people who had undertaken voluntary work at Sangat gained the confidence and experience necessary to pursue successful careers in law, accountancy or teaching.
“We’re open to people from all walks of life. Places like this need to be supported,” he said. “The whole idea of Sangat is to give the community a venue where people have easy access, including those who may not have gone to university or college and think those places aren’t for them.
“We help our volunteers realise their potential and show they can achieve things if they’re given the opportunity.”