Monthly Archives: June 2018

SIM & AGC tackle period poverty

Soroptimist International Middlesbrough has kindly donated a supply of sanitary products to the Acklam Green Centre, which are available to girls and women who are unable to afford to purchase them themselves.

The Middlesbrough branch of SI, a global volunteer movement working together to transform the lives of women and girls, is supporting the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign with the donation of the products which have been made available for any Acklam Green Centre customers or local-residents to access discreetly.

Pauline Reed membership officer and immediate past president from SI Middlesbrough, said: “It’s a heart-breaking reality that one in 10 females are unable to afford sanitary items here in the UK.

“Some girls and women are forced to use old clothes, toilet paper and newspapers as alternative solutions to sanitary products, while others have to rely on friends and foodbanks for handouts.”

Any females who require products should visit Acklam Green Centre’s reception desk and ask for the ‘toiletries box’ where they will be handed a box to take into a private room and select their required products before handing the box back in.  A sheet has been left in the box to note down which products have been taken so that centre staff can monitor items that require replacement. 

Donna Smith, centre manager for Acklam Green Centre, said: “We are delighted to support SI Middlesbrough’s who have purchased a very generous supply of sanitary products in support of the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign.  Any ladies and girls, who would otherwise struggle to purchase these products for themselves, are encouraged to come and speak to our reception where their request will be dealt with discreetly.”

Soroptimist International (SI) Middlesbrough meets at Acklam Green Centre on the third Thursday of every month between 7pm and 9pm. The group consists of friendly, lively and energetic women from all walks of life and of all ages who work together using our various skills and talents to make a difference to the lives of others through awareness-raising, lobbying, practical help and fundraising.  

The next SI Middlesbrough event being held at Acklam Green Centre is as follows:

– WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality – A Talk by Kath Sainsbury Thursday 19 July 2018 at 7pm

Visitors are welcome to attend a meeting to see if they would like to become a member.  For more information visit or contact Pauline Reed  on

Meet the Team – Donna Smith, Facilities Manager

Actes’ Facilities Manager Donna Smith is true reflection of the organisation’s commitment to helping people to fulfil their potential, having progressed from an administrative role to Facilities Manager over the course of the past 15 years.

Donna is one the organisation’s most long-serving members of staff having started life with West Middlesbrough Neighbourhood Trust (as Actes was formerly known) in 2003 aged 19.

With a Middlesbrough Council Business Admin apprenticeship under her belt, Donna’s first role as Neighbourhood Trust Development Officer saw her putting her admin experience into practice by providing support to the Neighbourhood Manager at People’s Panels and Resident Groups, as well as organising various community events including family fun days.

Donna says: “The role was very community orientated and really brought me out of my shell. It helped me to build relationships with members of the local community and various stakeholders that are really valuable to this day in my role as facilities manager.”

In 2007 Donna moved into the role of PA to the Chief Executive/ Office Manager and remained in the role during the organisation’s transition from WMNT to Actes.  In 2011 and with Actes’ current Chief Executive Sandra Phillips now in post, Donna was given the chance to really make her mark with a secondment to set-up and kit-out the organisation’s newly-built state-of-the-art venue, the Acklam Green Centre. This varied role involved managing everything from decorating and furnishing the centre’s meeting and conference rooms to setting up all the relevant policies and procedures including those relating to Health and Safety.

Donna says: “This was a completely new venture for Actes and I was entrusted to develop Acklam Green Centre from a shell into a fully functioning centre. This involved everything from putting in place policies around fire safety, health and safety and security measures for the building as well as recruiting a catering company to man the on-site café which we subsequently decided to manage in-house; it was quite a challenge but one I really enjoyed.”

The secondment led to Donna’s appointment as Centre Manager at Acklam Green Centre.  Commenting on the initial period after the centre’s launch, she said: “In the early days it was difficult to predict how things would evolve, however we quickly started to attract bookings from public, private and third sector organisations during the daytime and people started booking parties and running activities from here on evenings and at weekends, which reflected our aims to provide a facility which the local community could make use of, while we provided a centre management service. This trend in bookings has continued to this day, however we are also experiencing a surge in business orientated bookings on an evening which is really encouraging to see.”

Donna took a career break in 2014 to have son Elijah and upon her return from maternity leave later that year she was asked to take on the broader role of facilities manager for Actes.  In addition to running the Acklam Green Centre, the promotion involved having overall responsibility for the organisation’s other business and community centre, the Resource Centre in Meath Street, as well as its housing stock.

Today Donna manages a team of 15 members of staff who work between the two facilities, including Acklam Green Centre’s café and in-house catering facility, Café Connect.  She also has overall responsibility for driving business at the two centres, taking on-board customer feedback to improve customer-service, and it is this aspect of the role that continues to offer Donna the most job satisfaction today.

She says: “The most satisfying part of my role is the interaction with customers and hearing positive feedback about the service they’ve received.”

During Donna’s time with Actes she’s had the opportunity to undertake a substantial amount of training and development, achieving an NVQ Level 4 in Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) to support her early community work, an NVQ Level 3 in Team Leading, an NVQ Level 3 in Customer Service and an NVQ Level 5 in Management and Leadership. Additional courses that add to her CV include First Aid and Equality and Diversity.

Donna says: “Actes has been incredibly supportive in terms of my personal development, giving me the chance to gain qualifications that have allowed me to continue to improve in my role, however the most significant change I’ve experienced during my time with Actes has been the increase in my self-confidence having started out as a shy 19-year-old.”

In addition to managing her busy and varied role as Facilities Manager Donna is mum to four-year old son Elijah.

For further information about the Acklam Green Centre contact 01642 811 120 or visit the website

Dementia Friendly’s summer holiday at AGC

The Summer Holiday came early to the Acklam Green Centre when it hosted another Dementia Friendly screening.  An audience of forty people living with Dementia, and their friends, family and carers, attended a film screening of the classic Cliff Richard musical following the success of two previous events. 

The screening was organised in partnership with Brian Rowcroft, business engagement lead for Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough, a project that continues to develop Middlesbrough as a nationally recognised dementia friendly community. 

The screening was shown in the centre’s large conference hall to create a safe and comfortable cinema experience for those living with dementia; sound and lighting levels were adjusted to ensure the event wasn’t overwhelming for attendees. Members of the audience were also encouraged to express themselves freely during the film including talking, singing and moving about which culminated in an enthusiastic rendition of the title song.

Acklam Green Centre staff have completed dementia awareness training through the Alzheimer’s Society’s programme which is designed to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia.  The venue itself is recognised as being dementia-friendly having been assessed against the dementia friendly physical environment checklist.

Donna Smith, facilities manager at the Acklam Green Centre, said: “We were pleased to host another Dementia Friendly screening in the centre this week.  The events are proving popular and we are delighted to be able to do something specifically for those living with dementia in the local community.  We’re currently looking into further ways we can support this group by providing a comfortable environment in which to meet and interact with others.”

Ahead of the screening Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough was presented with a cheque by Councillor Denise Rooney of a donation of £5000 raised by bereavement services.

Brian Rowcroft, business engagement lead for Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough, said: “I am delighted that Acklam Green Centre continues to take part in this initiative to support people living with dementia in the Middlesbrough community.

“What’s more, it was fantastic to receive a substantial donation from Middlesbrough Council’s bereavement services ahead of the event. This will go a long way towards  supporting our work to help people remain active and included members of their communities and maintain their independence for as long as possible.”

For further information about Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough visit or email  

For further information about the Acklam Green Centre visit