Welcome Hall: Monthly Update April 2021

Things have progressed as intended since last time, and we are now into the 6-month feasibility study stage, April – September. During this period:

  • We’ll be engaging with Devonport people and citywide stakeholders re: what they’d like to do at Welcome Hall, what they’d like to bring to it, and what else they’d like to see happening – look out for messages from us re: this engagement process
  • Building surveys will be conducted and initial design plans drawn (though we’re still in the process of applying for funding for these)
  • We’ll write the initial business plan
  • We’ll create the community owned organisation that will 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 will look carefrully at the options to identify the best fit for our purposes

Competition for the building?

Meanwhile, Plymouth City Council – which owns Welcome Hall – is advertising the building for sale. This is their policy, to test the market for such assets whilst also exploring community schemes such as ours. This advert is open until the end of April. Should there be other interest, our project will enter a bidding process where the value of our bid will be informed by the idea of “social value”, i.e. while we’re not in a position to bid competitively on money terms, our job will be to put monetary value on the social impacts of our initiative.

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 cafĂ© (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). —-

Next update in May.

Meanwhile – any questions, comments, updates from you… very welcome.

Thanks for reading.

Marc

Marc Gardiner marc@zebra.coop
Welcome Hall Project Team