THE BUILDING blocks of a new town hub are well and truly set, with the first three groups taking advantage of the new space already announced.
Stratford Town Trust unveiled plans for Foundation House – a vibrant new facility bringing the community together under one roof – and its AGM on June 28th.
Organisations were asked to register their interest; a vast amount of flexible space available at the new hub, which will take over a 950-square metre industrial unit in Masons Road.
Already 20 groups have expressed an interest, with the first 3 set to move in now being announced.
They are: Men’s Shed, WRAP (Warwickshire Reminiscence Action Project) and Second Thoughts Drama Group – and all have been granted space within Foundation House by Stratford Town Trust.
The hub will open in the Autumn, once Stratford Town Trust has refurbished the building, but some groups are expected to move in sooner.
Men’s Shed – a social group for men aged 50 and over – have already been busy drawing up designs for their large 10m x 15m space. It means they will be able to build workbenches and everything else they need for their woodwork and activities.
They build everything from beehives to the Shakespeare Lions Santa sleigh but have been struggling to find a suitable home since leaving the town centre when Bell Court was redeveloped.
“We were a group of 26 but many of our members have had to stop coming because they are in wheelchairs and it is difficult because we are out of town and not accessible,” Men’s Shed leader Trevor Bachelor said.
“But now we’re moving into Foundation House – they all want to come back. We are so excited, we have the removal vans on standby.”
Foundation House will give WRAP – supporting and training people caring for older people in our community – a new home at a very crucial time.
WRAP offers a multitude of support services and activities – ranging from a day care centre to dementia cafes, training courses and trigger boxes on loan for reminiscence therapy.
The charity, initially set up more than 20 years ago, lost its base at Stratford Hospital and then its new home in Bidford as well, currently having no choice but to operate out of a bedroom office.
“When I told the Trustees we were being granted space at Foundation House they said we needed the biggest party to celebrate – that’s how much it means,” charity founder Mike Strophair said.
“I have long been calling for a hub like this in Stratford, it will be a great support as we move forward and enable us to continue to do the important work we do.”
Foundation House will give WRAP a base for its Resource Centre, supporting reminiscence therapy for people with dementia. It will also be able to run its training out of the hub – teaching reminiscence therapy to carers.
WRAP already works with many other organisations locally, providing that training and therapy, but Foundation House will strengthen those links. WRAP also has many resources it will be able to share with other hub users.
Second Thoughts will be granted one space upstairs and one space downstairs, with the Town Trust moving the group’s existing container up to the new site from Warwick Road. In return, Second Thoughts has kindly agreed to donate that container to the hub, so that it can be used by other groups as well.
“This is a tremendously exciting development for Second Thoughts as we will be sharing the facility with a number of diverse community groups. This gives us the opportunity for collaborative working with groups like Men’s Shed, also to develop a greater audience for our productions,” Chairman Ian McLean said.
“There are also some large shared spaces at Foundation House, which give us the opportunity to rehearse there – if this happens, it will have a significant impact on our production budgets and help us to invest in further improvements to our skills, productions and equipment.”
“This is exactly what we wanted to create with Foundation House,” Justin Williams, Chief Executive of Stratford Town Trust, said.
“A community within a community – providing much-needed space to local groups where they can be together and work together, pooling ideas and resources and forging new partnerships and projects.”
Organisations are being asked to continue registering their interest so the Foundation House community can keep building.
Both large and small spaces will be available, long and short term, over two floors, with space either granted or leased. There are multiple kitchen and toilet facilities already in place and disabled access. There are also 40 parking spaces on site.
Foundation House will have its own on-site manager with further details and a launch date to be announced in due course.
Interested groups are invited to complete a short survey online to register their interest now: https://www.research.net/r/FoundationEOI