Community group could receive £100,000 in shares towards Southwold Hospital project
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A conditional cash injection has been awarded to members of a community group as they look to transform their town's former hospital.
SouthGen, whose campaign of planning and fundraising allowed it to acquire the old Southwold and District Hospital, will receive a potential sum of £100,000 in community shares from the Community Shares Booster Programme (CSBP).
The programme provides much-needed financial impetus to organisations working for the benefit of their communities, just as SouthGen are doing as they attempt to turn the hospital site into a community hub.
Having already received a competitive grant of £10,000 to kick-start their prospective community shares initiative, the latest boost serves as immense recognition for the pioneering project.
'The Community Shares Booster Programme have made us a conditional offer of up to £100,000 if they're satisfied with our shares prospectus,' said SouthGen chairman, Jessica Jeans. 'It's a great boon to get something like that.
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'The shares project involves raising part of the finances for the redevelopment of the site by issuing community shares. Each share costs £25 and, basically, if you own a share, you own a part of Southwold.'
As SouthGen looks to unveil its shares initiative, the group used Southwold's annual flea market earlier this month to inform local residents and visitors about the scheme.
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It also allowed additional funds to be generated, with another £3,000 raised in the group's push for nine housing units - including five affordable homes - a cafe, library, business centre and crèche.
'We had great success at the event,' said SouthGen member Phoebe Dunning. 'It was all about raising awareness about community shares and what we're trying to do here in Southwold.
'As a condition of our grant, it's important to show we're taking an interest in people's views. We have to ask what excites them about the project.
'Second home ownership is a big issue in Southwold, so at the event we made sure to speak to local people and second home-owners as separate groups so we could understand the different perspectives.'
Mrs Jeans added: 'The CSBP want us to have a good understanding of what the community wants from this project. And by community, they don't just mean people who live here full-time - they mean visitors and second home owners as well.'