Mission Statement

The Joseph Cowen Lifelong Learning Centre (JCLLC) enriches lives by providing outstanding opportunities for lifelong learning for people in the North-East.

History of JCLLC

The Joseph Cowen Centre was born in 2013 following the closure of the North East Centre for Lifelong Learning at Sunderland University. The strength of feeling about this loss led members to establish JCLLC as a community interest company, with the aim of preserving the award-winning model of the Explore programme within a new, member-led, structure. We registered as a community interest company in August 2013 and opened our doors to our first members on 15th October of the same year.

Aims of JCLLC

We aim to :
  • Provide the Explore lifelong learning programme which enables members to pursue existing interests and explore new areas of study.
  • Support a community of learners where members can contribute their own knowledge and experience.
  • Foster an environment where social interaction is a valuable part of learning.
  • Promote the culture, history and natural and urban environment of the North East.
  • Offer a financially and practically accessible programme of activities.


JCLLC is registered at Companies House (number 8645261) and with the Community Interest Regulator and fulfils its statutory requirements.  There are eight elected Directors who may co-opt up to four others, and are responsible for strategic direction and management.  All members and tutors of the ‘Explore’ programme can participate in governance by becoming Company Members.

Our members

JCLLC was established and is governed by its members and it is their passion and dedication that drives us.  Our members play an active part in running the Explore programme: contributing their time, skills and experience.  Most are retired, with many living in rural areas, for whom the opportunity to learn, meet people and be part of an exciting project is invaluable.


We seek to enhance the learning culture of the region through partnerships with other cultural and educational bodies, with the aim of sharing knowledge and expertise. We have strong links with the Literary and Philosophical Society, the Centre for Ageing and Vitality, the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
Joseph Cowen Centre 2017 Lit & Phil logo adult education
Joseph Cowen Centre 2017 SANT logo adult education

Equal Opportunities

We are committed to equal opportunities and access for all adults, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or income. Our Newcastle city centre venue is accessible to people with mobility issues, including wheelchair users.  We are currently developing our website to make it more user-friendly.


We are funded through subscriptions to the Explore programme, donations and sponsorship in kind.  All funding is used to deliver and develop Explore.  
We are pleased to have a link with the SY Killingley Trust which enables us to offer Explore membership to people with limited financial resources. 
We also benefit from the ongoing support of Ampersand Inventions.
About JCLLC & Explore document (PDF)
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