A VIBRANT new facility bringing the community together under one roof is to open in Stratford-upon-Avon in the autumn.

It is the first stage in a new direction for Stratford Town Trust, working to connect with the community, proactively looking at where funding is needed, and how the grants it awards can have the greatest impact.

The new hub – Foundation House – will be pivotal, providing a large central space where organisations benefitting the community can come together to enhance and support each other.

It will open in Masons Road later in the autumn, taking over an existing 950 square metre building (currently a disused industrial unit), which is being leased and rejuvenated by Stratford Town Trust.

Foundation House will be a hub that organisations big or small can utilise, offering everything from small offices or meeting rooms to large warehouse space.

Crucially, as well as being leased, spaces will also be ‘granted’ to groups by Stratford Town Trust, which currently distributes almost £2 million in funding each year to local good causes.

Organisations will be able to apply for a ‘grant of space’ – either in addition to any request for funding, or as a stand-alone application.

Justin Williams, Stratford Town Trust’s Chief Executive, said: “Foundation House will be a vibrant new resource, taking an empty space and answering a very clear need by turning into a real hub for the community.

“We frequently receive enquiries from organisations seeking space – and a significant number of our grants are used to fund the cost of premises. This is the Town Trust being proactive and thinking differently, and that’s something we plan to focus on into the future.

“We want Foundation House to be a ‘community within a community’, providing space to organisations which will work together. It could be office space, meeting space, storage space, a base for a group or project, where ideas can be pooled, expertise shared and partnerships fostered.”

 Both large and small spaces will be available, long and short term, over two floors. 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.

Interested groups are invited to complete a short survey online to register their interest now: https://www.research.net/r/FoundationEOI

The hub will officially open in the autumn once a refurbishment is complete, but some groups may be able to move in sooner.

The hub was announced at Stratford Town Trust’s Trust’s AGM, held at Stratford ArtsHouse on Wednesday (June 28th).

Members heard the Trust awarded a total of £1.8m in grants in 2016 – and more than £25 million since 2001.

Mr Williams spoke of the Town Trust’s plans for a new direction going forward, with a Community Strategy to be announced in the autumn.

 “The sole purpose of Stratford Town Trust is to enhance quality of life,” he said.

“Our grants process should – and will – focus on that.

“We want to make sure our support is making the biggest impact it can and to do that we will be engaging with the community at every opportunity and proactively looking at where our funding can help. We want to start up a real community conversation so that we know where help is needed – and can act, just as we are with Foundation House.”

 More information on Foundation House will be released soon.

Keep up-to-date online – www.stratfordtowntrust.co.uk, or call 01789 207111.