Wednesday, 3 April 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Chinese centre forced to close
Financial problems have forced the closure of a Chinese community centre.
The building, under Burley's flyover, Leicester, had been a base for thousands of Chinese residents since 1989.
However, Leicester City Council stopped its funding in 2005 and since then the centre's committee has struggled to make ends meet.
Chairman Paul Ng estimated there were between 3,000 and 4,000 Chinese people in Leicester, not including students, and said many relied on the centre and the activities it provided.
While many clubs and groups that used the centre have found alternative venues, the closure of the centre has meant the loss of an advisory service which helped people who struggled with English.
The Chinese New Year celebrations in Humberstone Gate were organised by the centre and will cease.
Mr Ng said: "It's very sad but we can't continue.
"In 2005, we lost our grant, which was then about £50,000 a year and covered our rent, wages and the cost of the luncheon club we run.
"The clubs which used the centre have moved elsewhere and our luncheon club for the elderly will continue temporarily at the Peking restaurant, in Charles Street.
"Our Sunday Chinese school students have all moved to other schools in the city but our major services, such as the day-to-day advisory service to members, will end."
Kung fu instructor Derek Fearson, who has moved his classes to the Peepul Centre, in Orchardson Avenue, Belgrave, said: "I'm gutted. We've been involved with the centre since it opened and do the lion dance at the Chinese New Year celebration each year.
"I know most of the other groups are also in new locations, but it's a shame not to have the centre.
"I'm hoping when the dust settles we can get together and organise something for the Chinese New Year again."
Many of the people who used the centre came to Leicester from Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Most newcomers today are students visiting temporarily from the Chinese mainland.
Evelyn Lee, who was the development officer for the centre for the past two years, said: "There are more Chinese in Leicester than before but most of them are students.
"They have their own services and societies."

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