A MEETING is being held tonight (Wednesday) to discuss the future of the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) Centre in Pickering.

Users of the centre, in Hungate, have been told the centre is to close at the end of next month following a review of its sustainability.

The RVS Centre is used by a variety of groups, including luncheon clubs, fundraising, coffee mornings, Next Steps, various clubs, pilates, bingo and dominoes.

Daphne Bowes, who has helped run a luncheon club at the centre for 25 years, said everyone who used the facility was devastated.

“There are seven or eight groups who meet there every week, as well as extra events such as coffee mornings,” she said.

“Now we are being told that it isn’t used enough. Part of the problem is that it is difficult to contact anyone to book it. The charge to hire the hall has also been £10 an hour for years and has never been increased.”

Daphne said the centre had opened in 1967 as the Pickering Darby and Joan All-Day Club following fundraising by local people.

“The money was raised over three or four years by the people of Pickering to provide a community centre for people over the age of 60 in the town,” she said.

“Everyone is absolutely devastated by the news that the centre is to close, we need people to know what is going on and come along to the meeting to support us.”

In a letter to users of the centre RVS community development and operations manager Ben White said: “Over the last few years the RVS has undertaken a charity-wide review to ensure that we can meet our charity aims of inspiring the gift of volunteering and meeting the needs of the day. This has involved reviewing all of our services on a regular basis to ensure that they are sustainable and can continue to operate effectively.”

“Unfortunately, after reviewing the Pickering centre, we have had to make the difficult decision that we can no longer continue to operate the facility beyond March 31.

“We would like to stress at no point is this a reflection of the staff and services itself. We appreciate and have seen the incredible impact and provision it has provided over the years.”

The meeting will be held at the RVS centre at 5pm tonight.