The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), Gentoo and Sunderland College have officially opened offices at Sunderland’s new municipal hub, City Hall.
City Hall opened its doors in November 2021 with council employees making a phased return to the office in the wake of the pandemic and the closing of the former Civic Centre. Standing at the heart of the transforming Riverside Sunderland urban quarter, the hub was designed to streamline the process of residents accessing key support.
Prior to the opening of City Hall, the vast majority of the city’s support organisations were spread apart, however City Hall is now bridging the gap between many of these services by bringing them all together under one roof.This includes housing support from Gentoo, employment and pension support through the DWP and educational advice and support from Sunderland College.
Nigel Wilson, chief executive officer at Gentoo, commented: “The decision to move our Athenaeum and Havelock offices to City Hall will further strengthen Gentoo’s dedication to Sunderland and working under the same roof as the city’s key public sector partners will result in an even better service for our tenants and residents.
“Sunderland is transforming. It’s a city on the up and we are very excited to be a part of this exciting journey.”
Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of Sunderland College, added: “The opening of our new employability training facilities at City Hall will further extend our close working relationships with DWP and more broadly, the support we’re able to offer in the city centre, especially to those who wish to upskill, reskill or who are seeking pathways to employment.
City Hall was constructed by Sunderland firm Bowmer + Kirkland, ploughing millions of pounds into the local economy.
The building is one of a number of large-scale development projects progressing in the city centre, part of an “ambitious vision” to double the residential population in the city centre and increase employment by 50 per cent and fuelled by the backing of Legal & General.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, concluded: “City Hall was built on the principle of providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for key services to our residents, so we’re delighted to officially welcome Gentoo, the DWP and Sunderland College to the hub.”