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A Dudley project has been nominated for a top policing award after transforming a run-down village hall into a lively community hub.

The Black Country Wellbeing Centre located in Vale Street, Upper Gornal, was re-opened by ex-offender Wade Cooper.

After leaving prison Wade decided to give something back to the community. His determination to steer young people away from crime encouraged him to open the centre and deliver activities to local residents.

Despite getting no funding for the project, Wade continued to fundraise and was able to secure support from the local community, businesses and councillors.

The Black Country Wellbeing Centre is now up and running, delivering a variety of activities and classes to people of all ages.

Activities include boxing, mixed martial arts, fitness classes and knitting groups.

The centre also provides meals for the elderly and offers support to those with disabilities or struggling with unemployment.

The project has an excellent relationship with the local Neighbourhood Policing Team, who take part in the activities run by the centre and give talks to young people.

After a troubled past, Wade now offers a safe place to get young people off the streets and provides activities to deter them away from criminality.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said: “The Black Country Wellbeing Centre is doing excellent work in Dudley to get young people off the streets and provide them with engaging activities.

“These awards are our chance to say thank you to those who are doing outstanding work in our communities. Wade and the team are providing a safe space for young people, who are at risk of falling into crime.

“This project shows true community spirit and I am delighted they have been shortlisted for an award”.

Speaking on the success of the project, Wade Cooper added:”After my release from prison 8 years ago, I was struggling to reintegrate back into society.

“Following my own personal battles and feelings of isolation, I decided to open the centre. Fitness activities were a huge part of my rehabilitation and I encourage the young people to engage in as many activities. A kid in sport, is a kid out of court.

“I am hugely thankful for this nomination by the Police and Crime Commissioner”.

Councillor Keiran Casey and Councillor Adam Aston, Upper Gornal and Woodsetton Ward said: “We think it is fantastic that this formerly derelict building has been given a new lease of life and transformed into this vibrant community hub.

“As Dudley Councillors we have been supporting the great work that Wade has been doing at the centre, assisting with funding and the lease for the building.  

“Wade has been doing amazing work with local youngsters which is vital to our local community”.

The Awards take place on 11th July 2019.

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