Trustees at the White House Community Centre in Hampton have called on locals to support the “fantastic” site to ensure it stays open.

Mike Pain, a trustee and ex-president of the Hampton Upon Thames Community Association, which now runs the centre, said it provides “absolutely essential services for the area”.

“We are determined to keep this centre open. It is a community hub for all ages and all members of the community,” he said.

The centre includes a pre-school, food bank, citizens advice centre and mental health support charity, and is situated in one of the most deprived wards in Richmond, Hampton North.

The centre was run by the YMCA for HoTCA before the YMCA withdrew most of its provision last year, leaving the original trustees to run most of the activities and services from December.

Last month Richmond Council approved emergency funding plans to keep the centre open until the end of July 2020, totalling £1,700 a month.

But although the centre is experiencing financial issues, the trustees seem confident they can improve its sustainability.

They are building on the YMCA’s fitness classes and children’s activities, and introducing pay as you go and monthly memberships alongside traditional hall fees to generate more funds.

Mr Pain says the trust has “lots of feelers out at the moment”, to make use of its enormous space, including the hall.

It could see health and wellbeing activities introduced to the centre as well as a delivery office.

“It is a hub for the community, and our aim is to get everyone supporting a hub for the community, so we believe in bringing as many interesting groups in as possible,” said Mr Pain.

“We’re also hoping that the council will help, and the YMCA because they have still got resources here, even the Hampton Fund, although they have said at the moment they are not funding us.

“We see it as a collaboration going forward. We want to increase the community offering, because this is a community centre. It’s a fantastic building.”

The White House took its name from a converted semi-detached house where the centre began in 1984.

Mr Pain describes it as a “thriving small community set up by local people,” which soon outgrew its original location.

The Hampton Fund gave the association £1.3m after selling its land to create a new centre for the community, which would be leased from the borough.

For the first 22 years the site was run by volunteers, with the help of small grants and low staffing costs.

In recent years the site struggled to attract younger volunteers, who are often at work or caring for their families.

In 2015 the Hampton Fund withdrew their grant and suggested HoTCA went into partnership with the YMCA.

The YMCA managed the site on HoTCA’s behalf, increasing the activities and staffing, but broke their management agreement last year.

Now the trustees hope that building on this offering will make locals more aware of the resource.

Chair of Trustees Avril Coelho envisions commuters on their way to work smelling the bacon and coffee from the cafe and popping in for a bite to eat.

“On a Sunday, we used to have roasts, they could smell them and say ‘oh, we didn’t know this happened here’.

“In the summertime we could attract parents popping in after picking the kids up and seeing Tai Chi in the garden. It’s all about footfall,” she said.

The group is aiming for more than 80 per cent occupancy to ensure the centre’s future.

The trustees have praised the council, who are the site’s freeholders, for their support since December.

Cllr Michael Wilson, lead member for the voluntary sector at the council has spoken about the importance of securing the centre’s long-term future.

He said the council will look at “a new vision” for the whole site to include the White House, Youth Centre and Tangley Park Children’s Centre and is “committed” to ongoing engagement with the Hampton community.