chopwell’s enterprise and welfare centre
Our vision for The Bank
Our vision is to create an inspiring place to visit in the heart of Chopwell. The building will provide a central place for our community to meet, take part in activities and access vital services including a food bank and credit union as well as citizens’ advice services, training and business support. There will also be rentable rooms for businesses and artists that will provide income to maintain the building, whilst fulfilling a local need. A community coffee shop will be run as a social enterprise providing affordable locally produced food.
The Bank will be an important bridge between the main street in Chopwell, Chopwell Park’s new pump track and Chopwell Woods by providing cyclist and dog friendly facilities, bringing much needed revenue and visitors into the centre of the village.
Our video about the project has been made by Chopwell based business Fleetfoot Studios with funding from the Ballinger Trust.
What’s happened so far?
Gateshead Council have agreed to lease the former Lloyds Bank building on Derwent Street in Chopwell to the Regeneration Group for 35 years for a ‘peppercorn’ rent, so we can bring the building back into community use. We need to raise around £200,000 to make the building safe and usable. So far we have raised £23,500 having received grants from The Catherine Cookson Foundation, William Leech Charity, Co-op Community Fund, Power to Change Bright Ideas Fund and The Ballinger Trust.
The Bank will become a busy welfare and enterprise centre, a base and focus for the long-term regeneration of Chopwell. As founding members of the Chopwell and Blackhall Mill Partnership, we will continue to work closely with Chopwell Community Centre to ensure that everything we provide complements and supports the services provided from there. The Bank will have its own distinct identity because:
- We will provide a food bank, pay what you can meals and a credit union;
- It will be an enterprise centre, providing mentoring, training and support for start-up and small businesses;
- Residents can meet at the coffee shop and get involved in activities taking place there;
- Evening meals will be available at reasonable prices, building on the success of our ‘pop-up restaurants’ over the last two years;
- Volunteering opportunities will be available from the start, and in the longer-term employment and apprenticeship opportunities;
- Office and studio space will be available, including IT facilities, at competitive rates with discounts for local people and new start-ups;
- We will encourage local artists and craftspeople to display and sell their work;
- The Bank will provide a base for the Partnership Community Development Worker;
- It will be a base and meeting space for the Regeneration Group, and be an information point for village activities;
- The building will support the Pump Track development by providing information for cyclists and general tourists, cycle storage facilities for visitors and refreshments;
- As well as all of that it will provide a focal point for local heritage displays.
Most importantly, as members of the Chopwell and Blackhall Mill Partnership we want to be able to provide a venue where we can work together to tackle the key issues facing our village, such as social isolation, unemployment and anti-social behaviour and providing for and supporting those most in need.
With its prime location at the heart of the village, The Bank is in a perfect position to consider and support a wide range of ideas and help us work as a community to make Chopwell an even better place to live – for current residents and for future generations.
Once up and running the building will be self-funding, with any excess of the running costs being used to support the food bank and other services.
What’s happening next
We have to raise more money to be able to get work started and the majority of the funds will need to come from grants. If anyone knows of good sources of funding, or is willing to organise fundraising events please do get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click to read our business plan.