A COMMUNITY centre turned vaccination hub needs the support of the public to survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

Without additional income there is fear the site may never fully reopen as its former multi-purpose venue.

At present The Exchange in Sturminster Newton has transformed into a vaccination clinic to help with the coronavirus vaccine roll out across north Dorset.

During this time thousands of patients have been onsite to receive the jab, with invites now extended to priority group six - adults aged between 16 and 65 years-old in an at-risk group.

Despite this, there is growing financial concern surrounding the building, as there is no external funding or profit being made.

As a result an online fundraiser has been launched with a target of £30,000, in a bid to support the upkeep of The Exchange, which has already hit more than £600.

“We have no income, we don’t want this place to go. There’s nothing we can put on because of restrictions, so there is no money coming in at all,” said acting manager Sharon Clifton.

Sharon said the target figure was “something to focus on” as The Exchange is an “essential part of the community”.

She added: “We just need this to keep the place going, we’re trying to spend as little as possible.”

A grant awarded by the government is the main source of funding the centre has received during the pandemic, and staff are currently furloughed.

Talking about the vaccine effort, Sharon said: “We decided as the community centre we needed to offer the building to them [Sturminster Newton Medical Practice] - they were doing it next door and it just seemed right to help, it is going so well.

“There is a great sense of humour around the building and a real lift in spirits. It’s all about keeping people going as it can be an anxious time, but there is a sense of relief too.”

In response to community donations so far, Sharon told the Journal: “We recognise people are struggling as well so we are so appreciative of any money we get - it’s a hard time for everyone.

“The problem is you never know what’s going to happen. What I do know is people want this place to keep going, it’s the centre of the town and has so many community events.

"People are being so supportive and we want to keep this momentum and positivity going with the fundraising page.”

For more information and to donate visit The Exchange's Just Giving page.

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