Welcome Hall: 1st Monthly Update, March 2021

Greetings, all –

This is our first update on Zebra Collective’s work on the Welcome Hall project. We’re going to send monthly update briefings to keep you posted on developments, and to give you the opportunity to keep talking to us and asking questions.

So, here’s we go:

About the project

Zebra Collective is interested in redeveloping Welcome Hall as a community centre for Devonport and Plymouth, fit for purpose in 2021 and into the future.

The centre will offer a café (which will actually be the key feature of the scheme, as explained below), spaces for local groups, office space for community and social care organisations, hire space for classes, meetings, training & events, music nights and other such entertainment in the hall, and community resources such as a digital health hub. Plus there’s the possibility of some accommodation.

The cafe will be the main entry route to the centre, and will be run as a very welcoming, accessible and attractive space. Our intention is that it attracts everyone, i.e. that no-one should be – or feel – excluded. As well as being a lovely physical space that people will want to come to and be in, we see the cafe as the initial contact point for people who may be struggling and seeking some help. Thus the cafe staff will be trained in trauma-informed, strengths-based and inclusive engagement (all core areas of Zebra’s work).

PCC agrees – conditionally – to back our feasibility enquiry

At the end of January 2021 PCC agreed, subject to certain conditions, to give us 6 months from April to conduct a feasibility study. This will involve assessing the state of the building, and the level of funding required for redevelopment, assessing if our plan for running the building will be financially viable, and talking to local people to see whether people would use Welcome Hall, and if so what for.

Our time through February and March has been spent on the pre-feasibility work – tasks to meet those conditions – and we’re making good progress:

  • Gathering a “design team” of buildings experts for the various surveys required
  • Seeking input re developing the business plan we’ll write during the 6-month feasibility period
  • Beginning to explore options for the new community owned organisation that will be founded to take on the building and its activities (if the feasibility study gives the green light) – we currently favour the option of a Charitable Community Benefit Society – but we are really in the early stages of this enquiry
  • Exploring funding options for all the above

So, by mid-April we hope to have completed the above and to be beginning the 6-month feasibility study period.

We’ll be in touch then. Meanwhile – any questions, comments, updates from you… very welcome.

Thanks for reading.

Marc

Marc Gardiner
Welcome Hall Project Team