Council looks for long term funding to secure Community House, Wisbech, for residents as Roddons say rent free days are over

PUBLISHED: 14:34 27 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:17 27 August 2015

Community House, Southwell road, Wisbech. Picture: Steve Williams.

Community House, Southwell road, Wisbech. Picture: Steve Williams.

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Roddons Housing Association has warned this is the last year they will allow the already financially threatened Community House in Wisbech to use it rent free.

Lloyds workers help out at Community House.Lloyds workers help out at Community House.

The warning is contained in an update on the Southwell Road centre prepared by Dan Horn, head of housing and community support for Fenland District Council.

Mr Horn says that although £48,000 was secured £48,000 from the Department of Works and Pensions to keep Community House open until the end of next March, if it is to survive a long term source of funding must be found.

His report, to the overview and scrutiny committee on September 7, highlights the impact of the DWPP funding- from April to July this year 74 people took part in a work related programme there.

“Of the 13 beneficiaries that have concluded the programme, all 13 feel more confident to seek work,” says Mr Horn. “The majority of the 74 are still receiving support and seven have found work since being on the programme.”

Community House, Southwell road, Wisbech. Community garden. Picture: Steve Williams.Community House, Southwell road, Wisbech. Community garden. Picture: Steve Williams.

However the DPP has told the council they cannot fund the programme after next April and alternatives are being sought. Seventy potential partners are being explored.

Mr Horn says a £750,000 bid is being made by Cambridgeshire ACRE for European funding to help Wisbech but even if, as is required, match funding of £750,000 can be found, the money would not come on stream until 2017.

“Clearly the situation is that although there are potential avenues of funding, there is no firm proposal on the table,” says Mr Horn.

His report points to how Community House has helped residents with IT qualifications, introduced speech therapy for a man who had suffered three heart attacks, supported a man to gain computer skills who was suffering severe depression, and bolstered the skills of a man “with low confidence and low maths skills.” The latter man is now going onto a level 2 maths qualification.

One DWPP official told Mr Horn: “There is clear evidence that people’s lives are being transformed through upskilling and confidence building.”

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