Carol Kerr

Deli bar launches at Café Connect

Acklam Green Centre’s in-house WiFi Café, Café Connect has launched a new deli counter offering an extended selection of fillings and salad options for sandwiches, jacket potatoes and salad boxes.

Café Connect is open to the public for breakfast, lunch, drinks and snacks Monday to Friday.  Following a makeover in the summer, the cafe has now updated its menu to include additional fresh fillings such as crab salad and chicken tikka served on large sub-rolls which are now displayed behind the counter for people to pick from along with a range of salad options. Hot roast beef and gravy baguettes have also been added to the offer and homemade soup, toasties, paninis and breakfast sandwiches are also available.

Donna Smith, facilities manager at Acklam Green Centre, said: “We are always looking to improve our customer offer. The introduction of the deli counter means that people have more choice than ever and can see our fresh and tasty fillings for themselves to create a lunch exactly to their liking.

“Not everyone realises that Café Connect is open to the general public and is not just for centre customers, so we hope that the extended menu attracts more people to enjoy breakfast, lunch or just a coffee in our WiFi café.”

Lunch orders are available for collection from Café Connect before 12pm weekdays by calling 01642 811120.

Bootcamp & martial arts classes start up at AGC

In line with the introduction of new evening and weekend rates at Acklam Green Centre, two new activity groups are set to run classes from the centre’s Roseberry Hall from October.

Acklam School of Martial Arts will offer two sessions a week between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday and Friday from the 17th October and Sweaty Mama, a female-only bootcamp class, will take place 7pm to 8pm on Mondays from 29th October.

Acklam School of Martial Arts’ sessions, which will mainly focus on Taekwondo and kickboxing, will be run by fully qualified instructors with over 10 years’ experience and will be suitable for people of all ages and abilities. The first session will be free and following this, adults will pay £4 and children under 10 will pay £3 per session.

Acklam School of Martial Arts’ head instructor, Lee Dixon, said: “We are a family friendly club that welcomes people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities. We’d encourage those who are interested to come along and train in a relaxed, happy environment and have fun.”

For further information about Acklam School of Martial Arts contact Lee Dixon on 07852 769883.

Sweaty Mama bootcamp, which incorporates circuit-style training combining various high intensity workouts, will cost £45 for an eight-week course.

Kirsty Lewis, franchisee at Sweaty Mama UK, said: “Sweaty Mama Bootcamp aims to be a safe and friendly environment for females who motivate each other to work hard whilst having a laugh and seeing great results. To keep everyone from getting a little bored the workouts change each week to avoid repetition.

“High Intensity circuits type training assists in efficient fat burning, however each exercise has lower intensity options for beginners, so there is an option for everyone and their fitness level.

“The eight-week course brings us nicely to mid-December which is perfect time to feel that little bit better about ourselves before we hit those mince pies!”

To book onto the Sweaty Mama bootcamp visit the website  For any queries contact Kirsty via email and for further information visit SweatyMamaMiddlesbrough on Facebook and Instagram.

New evening and weekend rates

Acklam Green Centre has introduced a new rate card for those hiring the centre’s facilities on evenings and weekends in a bid to appeal to more individuals and groups running leisure activities.

Following a review of its pricing, the centre will offer reduced rates for those hiring its meeting rooms, suites and hall for bookings commencing from 5pm onwards on weekday evenings and all day on weekends.  The new rates will come into effect on 1st November in a bid to ensure affordability for all and to help attract more future bookings from people running fitness classes, dance classes, performing arts and similar leisure activities for the public to participate in.

A number of community groups already operate from the centre and include meditation and mindfulness, Slimming World, a church group, martial arts and French and German classes. The facilities team is hoping that the decision will attract even more people looking for space to run their activities from an accessible Middlesbrough venue.

Donna Smith, facilities manager, said: “As part of an analysis of the centre’s current usage alongside identifying potential groups that we would like to attract in future, specifically on evenings and weekends, we recognised the need to bring in an hourly evening and weekend rate to ensure affordability for all.  The new rates will apply to bookings that commence from  5pm onwards on evenings and all day on weekends.

“Our two training suites and our large Roseberry Hall are ideal for running a range of activities such as yoga, zumba, HIIT classes, boot camps, dance classes and much more. In addition, we have plenty of on-site parking and are easy to get to from the A19, so are ideal for groups looking to build up a customer base.

“With the new rates coming into effect we hope to add to our already varied timetable of leisure activities and offer even more for the local community to enjoy.”

For further information about room rates at the Acklam Green Centre call 01642 811120

Future SI Middlesbrough events at AGC

Soroptimist International (SI) Middlesbrough is a group 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. This is done through awareness-raising, lobbying, practical help and fund-raising.

The group meets at Acklam Green Centre on the third Thursday of the month between 7pm and 9pm. A speaker takes centre-stage for the first hour and this is followed by an opportunity for members to socialise with each other. Visitors are welcome to attend any meeting to see if they would like to become a member.

The next SI Middlesbrough events taking place at Acklam Green Centre are:

  • Thursday 20 September, 7pm – Floral Demonstration celebrating International day of Peace and Anti-Slavery Day.
  • Thursday 18 October, 7pm – Talk on the Regeneration of Middlesbrough by David Allred.
  • Thursday 15 November, 7pm – Petition Evening.

SI Middlesbrough 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.

Soroptimist International is a global volunteer movement working together to transform the lives of women and girls. (SI) works at a local, national and international level to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls. Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI has consultative status at the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations (UN).

For further information or to join SI Middlesbrough and help make a difference to women and girls worldwide visit: or email Pam:

A dance down memory lane at AGC

Cleveland Alzheimers Residential Centre Limited (Cleverarc) is set to host two Dementia Friendly tea dances at the Acklam Green Centre as part of the Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough initiative during August.

On Wednesday 1st August and Wednesday 29th August invited guests comprising of those living with dementia and their carers from the Middlesbrough community will enjoy a traditional tea dance in the centre’s Roseberry Hall.

Guests will enjoy entertainment from Good Vibrations Mobile Disco, who will play a selection of 50s, 60s and 70s music designed to unlock memories from years gone by, as well as a selection of cakes, scones and tea and coffee courtesy of Café Connect, Acklam Green Centre’s in-house caterer.

Brian Rowcroft, Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough Business Engagement Lead at Cleverarc, said: “The benefits of dancing and music are well known for people living with dementia to help them stay active and re-establish memories. Many people danced when they were young, so these tea dances will provide an opportunity to relive those past experiences, while enjoying company and staying active at the same time.

“Having hosted the dementia friendly film screenings at Acklam Green Centre we know it will be a perfect venue to host these dances as it meets all of the criteria as a dementia friendly venue. The space available, AV equipment and location in central Middlesbrough are also major plus points.”

For further information about Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough visit or email

Dementia Friendly screenings confirmed

Funding has been secured to host five Dementia Friendly screenings at the Acklam Green Centre over the course of the next year.

The Tees Valley Community Foundation has awarded the funds to Actes Trust, owners of the Acklam Green Centre, following the success of two pilot screenings shown in the centre’s Roseberry Hall earlier this year delivered in partnership with Cleveland Alzheimers Residential Centre Limited (Cleverarc) who are lead for Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough project.

Feedback from the two events was very positive, so the two organisations decided they would like to host them more regularly to combat the likelihood of isolation among those living locally with dementia who find it difficult to access mainstream cinemas because of how busy they are.

Donna Smith, facilities manager at the Acklam Green Centre, said: “We are pleased to have secured funds to host five dementia friendly screenings throughout the year. The pilot events proved very popular and we are pleased to be able to host a regular event to support those living with dementia in the local community.”

Brian Rowcroft, Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough Business Engagement Lead, said: “It’s fantastic that Actes sees the importance of supporting people living with dementia in the Middlesbrough community and has gone about securing funds to host more regular screenings after the pilot events were so well received.

“These events provide an opportunity for people living with dementia and their carers to meet and interact with others, and to enjoy a trip to the cinema in a safe and comfortable environment.”

The first dementia friendly screening will take place on Wednesday 8th August at Acklam Green Centre with the remainder scheduled in the school holidays during 2018-19. Due to size of venue the screenings are invitation only

For further information about Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough visit or email

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 

TASC celebrates 50th birthday at AGC

The Acklam Green Centre recently hosted a special 50th birthday celebration for TASC (Teesside Ability Support Centre).

TASC, which provides care, training and activities to over 100 adults with differing abilities each week, is marking its ‘Golden Jubilee’ with a series of celebrations taking place up to October.

The party, which took place in the Acklam Green Centre’s Roseberry Hall on 10th May, saw TASC staff come together with many of the organisation’s members and their carers to enjoy a disco, quiz, food and drink and presentations.

TASC, which has its main centre on Acklam Road as well as two smaller resources in Coulby Newham and Hemlington, is a regular visitor to the Acklam Green Centre having used the facility for Christmas parties and other events.

Malcolm Turley, general manager at TASC, said: “We all had a fantastic time celebrating our ‘Golden Jubilee’ at the Acklam Green Centre, which is one of a number of events we’re hosting throughout our 50th year.

“The Acklam Green Centre is an ideal venue for us as it’s close to our main centre and has as large hall ideal for hosting large numbers of people.  There are also private meeting rooms available that we can use for members’ personal care and the staff are always really friendly and go out of their way to be as helpful as possible.”

For further information about TASC visit the website