A crowdfunding campaign which raised £500,000 in just 36 hours has saved a longstanding Manchester welfare facility from closure.
The Nicky Alliance Centre, offering activities and support for the elderly, has been shut since March due to the pandemic.
Following four years of losses, a decision was taken to sell the building at a meeting in May of Manchester Jewish Community Care — the charity which administers it. But the success of this month’s fundraising drive has prompted a dramatic turnaround and the sale plans have been dropped.
MJCC chief executive Michelle Wiseman said the response from the community had been “unbelievable. I just didn’t realise how much support there is out there.
“It’s highlighted how much of a need there is for the Nicky Alliance Centre,” she told the JC.
The money raised would “keep us going for the foreseeable future”, helping to minimise the charity’s deficit.
However, to make the operation more cost effective, some back-office staff had been made redundant and would not be replaced.
Centre users expressed relief at the news. Max Levine, 87, a regular attender since his wife died five years ago, said he used the computer facilities to catch up on the news and also went to the Nicky Alliance dances.
“People came in looking demoralised and depressed and they sort of switched on — it was incredible.”
He felt his own wellbeing had deteriorated during the lockdown without the opportunity to attend the centre.
Another regular is Ruth Edwards, 94, who is blind. She said she enjoyed the centre’s discussions and musical events and used its hairdresser. She was “never bored” there and had “missed it very much”.
Ms Wiseman doubted the centre would reopen this year due to health concerns, citing the vulnerability of service users and the duty of care to staff and volunteers.
But when it did, the hope was that other community groups would use its amenities.
In the wake of the May meeting, the MJCC board had been in talks with interested parties about a potential sale that would have kept the building in communal use — for example, as a facility for children with special needs.