THE FAREWELL party at Foundation House in Stratford proved an emotional affair – especially for the one charity still to find a new home.
Stratford Town Trust announced in March that it would have to say goodbye to its current community hub, Foundation House, this month.
Since it opened in 2018, the hub on Masons Road has provided low-cost space to 12 charities, as well as supporting many more through activities for the local community and flexible spaces available for hire.
The Trust – a grant giving charity – said it was proud of what it have achieved at Foundation House, including its Fun Palaces, regular Community Cafes, Winter Warm Hubs, a successful Repair Cafe in partnership with Net Zero Stratford and hosting weekly ESOL classes and NHS diabetic eye screening.
But earlier this year, the landlord for Foundation House gave notice of its intention to exercise a break clause in the lease in order that the land can be developed as part of the Canal Quarter Redevelopment Zone. Despite attempts to negotiate an extension of the lease to provide enough time to find alternative premises in consultation with the current user groups and stakeholders, this wasn’t granted.
The Trust gave notice to its licence holders to vacate the building by June 21 and offered them support to find new homes.
A farewell party was held at Foundation House on Friday (May 26) for all the charities which include Second Thoughts Drama Group, Escape Arts, Safeline, Shakespeare Lions, Stratford Army Cadets and Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action.
Eleven of the charities have found temporary homes at Stratford District Council-owned Venture House while the search for permanent premises continues, but the Men’s Shed still has no where to go due to its ‘niche’ requirements.
The charity, that provides a place for older men – primarily over 50 years of age – to socialise, has operated from Foundation House for the past six years and the group had believed they would be there until June 2027.
Men’s Shed prevents older men from becoming socially excluded and gives them the opportunity to be creative and take part in social and recreational activities of their choice.
Chairman Barry Thorne explained the farewell party had been very difficult for Men’s Shed members.
He said they had reluctantly moved the Men’s Shed into storage and appealed to the public to help them find a new meeting room and workshop space.
Barry continued: “We are appealing to anyone who can help us secure a suitable and affordable space for our charity. We need a space that can accommodate our members, workshop, equipment, and a place to continue to integrate into the wider community, using our skills and activities. We would like to stay in the Stratford area, as this is where most of our members and beneficiaries live and work.”
Anyone who can help Men’s Shed find a new home should contact the charity on 07939 085720,or email [email protected].
Sara Aspley CEO of Stratford Town Trust said. “This has been an incredibly moving afternoon with many many people who have benefited from Foundation House coming together to share tea and cake. Seeing so many people here today is a real demonstration of the power of community. Whilst we are sad to be moving on, the good news is that its’ adieu and not farewell, as we will soon be opening the doors at our new community hub at Venture House just off the Birmingham Road”.