STRATFORD Town Trust unveiled plans for Foundation House – a new facility bringing the community together under one roof – less than a month ago, and already 20 groups have expressed an interest in moving into the Mason Road community hub.
Men’s Shed, WRAP (Warwickshire Reminiscence Action Project) and Second Thoughts Drama Group are the first to be granted space in the 950-square metre industrial unit.
The hub will open in the autumn, once the 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 to build workbenches and everything else needed for their woodwork and activities. The group 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.
Men’s Shed leader Trevor Bachelor said: “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.”
“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 crucial time.
WRAP offers various 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, suffered a double blow when it lost its base at Stratford Hospital and then its new home in Bidford, leaving no choice but to operate from a bedroom office.
Charity founder Mike Strophair said: “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.”
“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 drama group will move to the hub from its existing Warwick Road site.
Chairman Ian McLean said: “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.
“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.”
Stratford Town Trust chief executive Justin Williams was delighted to welcome the first tenants to Foundation House.
He told The Observer: “This is exactly what we wanted to create. 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 can continue registering their interest for space at Foundation House.
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.
Visit www.research.net/r/FoundationEOI for full details.