We’re getting ready for business! That’s the message residents in north Plymouth are being told at a preview of the new-look centre for business and the community.
Thanks to a £1.275 million grant from Plymouth City Council, the Four Greens Community Trust has turned an empty care home in Whitleigh into a welcoming building which can house small businesses, support services and community groups.
Delivered by Ian Williams Contractors to a high standard of finish, the revamp has been designed to be flexible to attract a range of organisations and groups to move in. The 60s building now looks completely different on the outside, with attractive cladding updating the look and feel of the exterior.
Inside the building has been decorated and there are now colour coded wings – green to label the community areas and magenta for the business areas. The reception area has giant images of the four neighbourhoods the trust serves: Whitleigh, Honicknowle, Ernesettle and Manadon.
Councillor Dave Downie, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities said: “This is a huge day for the trust. We want to show people and explain what we are trying to achieve and seeing inside this building will show them what we are all about.
“We want this building to be buzzing with people, to provide a place where they can start a business and get support to succeed and to feel they can come here to get all kinds of support that will make them and their families, healthier and happier.”
The trust has hit the ground running and has already secured their first major tenant, Barnardo’s. The building will become the main Plymouth base for the charity’s 35 members of staff and will provide a children’s centre and offer a wide range of health support services.
Barnardo’s currently work with over 600 families in Plymouth, many of whom live in the Whitleigh area, said the charity’s regional director Kerstin Neason. She added: “We are delighted to be working with FGCT in the exciting new building at Whitleigh.
“We welcome the opportunity to work alongside community partners in the early days of developing a unique and truly collaborative community based service. Our teams who look after young carers, help represent families in the courts as well as well as run Whitleigh Children’s Centre will all work from the new building alongside colleagues from health visiting and midwifery.”
The charity also plans to landscape the garden area outside the building. Other organisations have also indicated to the trust that they would like to be involved in some way.
Another organisation which has signed up to take space in the building is Memory Matters, a community interest company which works with people whose lives are touched by memory loss and dementia, providing a range of therapy, support services and education.
Budshead Surgery and TAG (a federation of eight practices mainly in the North and West of the Plymouth) are also keen to work with the trust.
Dave Vear, chair of the board added: “This is just the start. We want to encourage members of the community to feel comfortable using this facility and will be holding a range of coffee mornings, tea and toast and community events over the next few months.
“We are a community economic development trust and want to hear some of the ideas local people may have about how some of the spaces could be used and encourage them to try their business ideas out “