A COMMUNITY centre in Bicester has proven to be a popular spot for local groups and services in just a year after opening.

Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre, which officially opened its doors in September 2018, has come a long way over the past year.

Since opening, the number of hours used in the centre have more than doubled from 209 in September 2018 to 470 in September 2019.

The number of regular hirers has also increased from 40 in December 2018 to 77 by the end of November 2019.

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Located in the middle of Countryside’s Kingsmere development which is adjacent to Bicester Village, the centre has become the focal point and 'heart of the community', offering not only a place for entertainment and sport but also a place of sanctuary and support.

Nai’s House, a community support group which offers a holistic approach to supporting 16-25 year olds with their mental health, is the most recent group to start using the centre.

Using the centre three times a week, Nai’s House offers counsel to young people in need and organise activities such as yoga sessions and art therapy.

In addition to the important work being done by charities, a recent focus area for the centre has also involved organising inter-generational events.

Little Acorns pre-school at Kingsmere, is a key part of this programme - along with St. Edburg’s C of E Primary School, which is also located on the development.

Last month, the Centre hosted a Christmas Fayre which saw local stall holders, businesses, theatre groups, and martial arts groups.

It also hosted an inter-generational Christmas event where residents enjoyed storytelling and mince pies.

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Andrew Carrington, director of Countryside Properties (Bicester) Limited, said: “The Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre is a fantastic facility which the residents and local community are certainly making use of.

"It’s remarkable that in its first year of opening, it has already become the heart of Kingsmere.

“The Centre has not only established itself as a place for residents and the wider Bicester community to come together and enjoy leisure activities and events, but also provides an important social hub for local charities and organisations that are supporting the most vulnerable in the wider Bicester community.”

Some of the other clubs and groups that currently use the Kingsmere Community and Youth Centre include: Bicester Camera Club, Chesterton Junior Football Club, Rugby Tots, Women’s Institute, Perfect Puppies and Little Kickers, among others.

Mr Carrington added: “This is a testament to the great work being done by Vicky, Carla, and the rest of the team, who are giving up their time to make the Centre a success and to ensure it is a facility for all.”

Since opening its doors, the community centre has hosted charities, writing groups, weddings and christenings, school performances, local businesses, musical theatre groups and more.

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Support group, Dementia Active, will start holding sessions from December 10.

If you would like to know more about the centre’s activities or have an interest in utilising its space, go to www.kingsmerecc.org.