A long-standing community group is appealing for funds to refurbish its home, the Saint Martin’s Learning Centre on Tulse Hill.
The High Trees Community Development Trust began life in 1998 when a group of people got together to save their local library building.
It has been the physical centre of their work ever since, supporting communities through diverse and far-reaching services, including employment, education, community action and youth.
Handed over to the community by Lambeth council, the building grew into the home of today’s charity.
“While we love our old library, the building itself is in an increasing state of disrepair and hasn’t seen any capital investment for over 22 years,” said partnerships and developments manager Steph Gamauf.
“This has been affecting our work, particularly since Covid.”
She said the charity has put in a huge effort to raise the necessary funds and had launched a crowdfunder “to get us over the finishing line”.
More than 600 people who use High Trees services were involved in consultation events to establish what the key objectives of redevelopment should be.
Now, as well as seeking funding, it is asking the wider community about how the exterior of the former library should look.
High Trees said that creating more community space will allow the charity to work with more people.
Plans include a dedicated internet cafe and computer suite to support more people with little or no access to online services.
The new building will also allow High Trees to bring its employment and welfare team back in-house, so users will be able to access courses and employment support in the same place.
This will allow the trust to rent out its other community building, the Scout Hut, helping to increase its income and making it less dependent on uncertain grant funding.
New training rooms “will be inspiring, high-quality and fit for purpose, which will allow us to competitively market and deliver our paid-for courses in the borough and create an improved learning environment for our free community courses,” High Trees said.
“Over the past year, we have been putting in huge efforts to raise the funding to make this project happen.
“We are now at the final hurdle, and we are asking for help from the Lambeth community and our supporters to get us closer to our final goal.”
Funds from the crowdfunder, which is intended to raise at least £6,000, would be used to develop:
1. An internet cafe for community use (£3,000)
2. Employment support interview pods (£1,500 each)
If the appeal can reach its “stretch target” of £10,000, the extra cash will be used to buy interactive whiteboards for training rooms.
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