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Major funding boost for community group which bought town's old hospital

PUBLISHED: 00:00 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:46 03 April 2019

Community group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. 
Picture: Nick Butcher

Community group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

The community group whose innovative campaign saw it acquire its town’s disused hospital has received a £100,000 funding boost.

Community group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. 
Picture: Nick ButcherCommunity group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. Picture: Nick Butcher

SouthGen, which - in partnership with Hastoe Housing Association - bought Southwold Hospital from the NHS after it was closed, has secured investment as part of Power to Change’s Community Shares Booster Programme.

It marks the latest step forward for SouthGen, whose plans for a revitalised community hub including a farm-to-fork cafe, creche and business centre were approved in 2017.

The site will also form a new home for Southwold Library and offer nine housing units, five of which will be affordable. An estimated 35 jobs will have been created within five years of the hub’s opening.

With this latest matching community share investment, SouthGen is two thirds of the way towards its £725,500 fundraising target and is looking to raise the final £250,000 by issuing community shares.

Community group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. 
Picture: Nick ButcherCommunity group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. Picture: Nick Butcher

For every share bought by the public, up to the amount of £100,000, Co-operatives UK will buy an equivalent number of shares.

“This share offer is the final piece of the funding jigsaw puzzle,” said Jessica Jeans, SouthGen chairman. “Most of the money raised so far has come from grants.

Now we are at the most exciting part of the project, where members of the community can buy shares and finally reclaim a building that was built by the community, for the community. Shareholders will become SouthGen members, meaning they own the building and the community businesses.

“Equally important, all of the profits generated by the community hub must be ploughed back into the community. It is SouthGen members who decide how best to use the profits to help the community.”

Community group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. 
Picture: Nick ButcherCommunity group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. Picture: Nick Butcher

SouthGen’s share offer for the Old Hospital Fund will open on May 10 on Crowdfunder and close on June 16, with a minimum target of £125,000.

If the group does not achieve this target, the offer will fail and SouthGen will be required to return investors’ money - including the matched funding.

Colette Harvey, joint head of open programmes at Power to Change, added: “We believe that community businesses can change lives and transform places for the better.

“We wish SouthGen the very best of luck with their community share offer.”

Community group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. 
Picture: Nick ButcherCommunity group SouthGen has secured a £100,000 grant towards its Southwold Hospital redevelopment project. Picture: Nick Butcher

Email info@southgen.co.uk to register your interest in buying community shares in the old hospital.

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