Thursday, 5 August 2010

Charity Registration At Last

Back again, with apologies to our followers and other readers for the absence of regular updates since March. The fact is that, until fairly recently, there has been very little in the way of progress with our project, largely because the money needed to to qualify as a registered charity took longer than we expected to come through. We finally managed to assemble the necessary funds, and on 14 July we became registered as Bemerton Community.

We raised the money through loans, donations and local fundraising activities. The latter have been well supported by the local residents, and we were particularly pleased with our Open Gardens event on 30 June, which raised over £1000. It was delightful that a few local primary school children got together to run a Cake Stall for us - every little helps. We have also succeeded recently in obtaining a small grant from our local council to assist with project planning.

In the meantime, St. John's has recently been regraded as a Grade II* listed building and we're now starting to grapple with the inevitable resistance to change from the various bodies and authorities concerned with conservation. While we are entirely sympathetic with their point of view, the fact remains that the building will only survive if it is used by the local community. This means that some internal alterations are inevitable if it is to be used as a financially viable community centre.

We are now concentrating on completing our Business Plan, which will enable the Funding Team to start applying for capital funding grants. The Building Team is working on producing a planning brief for the architects, and continuing the survey of similar projects so that we can benefit from the lessons learned by others. So there is much to do in the next few months.

Monday, 29 March 2010

A Quiet Three Months?

While the first three months of this year have not seen much in the way of Group activity, quite a lot has been happening behind the scenes with all the task teams making progress in their respective areas of responsibility.

Armed with the results of our survey, the User Team is now looking a little wider afield than the local community, trying to identify other possible users of the facilities we need to provide. Meanwhile the Building Team is visiting various similar projects to pick up some tips and find out what lessons we can learn from their experience. The Funding Team has drawn up a list of the various grant-making bodies that might possibly support our project, and is in the process of applying for money for the next phase of our work. We are also starting to plan some local fundraising activities.

A few weeks ago we briefed the Wilton Estate on our efforts to secure a future for St. John’s, and Lord Pembroke came to Lower Bemerton recently to see for himself what we hope to achieve. It is good to have such influential support.

Finally, we have now managed to raise the small amount of money needed to qualify for registration with the Charity Commission, so that we can benefit from Gift Aid in future.