Three weeks to save Lincoln mental health hub, council to sell building

A mental health and trauma hub in Lincoln could close in three weeks unless the local charity running it can hit its £70,000 target to buy the building.

[email protected], on Mint Lane, offers a range of services to help improve people’s wellbeing and is largely centred around mental health.

It’s home to the Lincoln Trauma Centre, which sees hundreds of clients every year, as well as a newly-opened laundry and shower facility for the homeless.

In addition, it boasts a cafe which serves a buffet of surplus food from local businesses at as little as £3 per meal, run by caring volunteers.

Let Them Eat Cake volunteer Gemma Raggett with an ID card at the newly opened homeless shower facility. Photo: Connor Creaghan for The Lincolnite

The building is owned by Lincolnshire County Council, which will be putting the building up for sale by 2022.

Volunteers explained the charity has been invited to buy the freehold, but that the building would eventually be put on the open market at the end of the current lease.

Since 2012 the centre has been run by local charity Community Assets Plus. The charity’s Chair Martha Vahl said “unless we can raise enough money to buy the building occupied by the well-being centre, it is unlikely to survive”.

This room is for chilling space for people to gather their thoughts and is dedicated to one of the founders of the centre Andrew Harrison, who passed away. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The charity has found it a financial struggle to pay the full commercial rent of the city centre building.

It is appealing for the community to buy shares towards the cost of acquiring the freehold of the building.

It said it needs to raise at least £70,000 to go with a package of grants and loans to make up the full amount to buy the building, and make some much needed repairs and improvements, by the end of January 2020 for the plan to go ahead.

[email protected] said: “As we start the new year we are into the second month of our share offer and the holiday season has put a big brake on the flow of applications for shares.

“With only three weeks to go to the planned closing date we are still a long way short of the target we need.

“Every small contribution is helpful and we are appealing for all centre users and any supporters to come forward and apply. Many have said they will do so, but it now needs to be done if we are to save the centre.

“We are seeking grant funding and have recently had indication in principle from Key Fund, a social investor, that they will provide a small loan, which should be affordable. But the share offer must be a success if we are to raise the total amount needed to buy the building. This is now a short window of opportunity.

“The county council have said that we need to buy it now or they will put it on the open market at the end of our lease, when it seems certain to be lost. So please help now. If everyone who loves the centre pledges to buy shares we can make this happen.”

The charity said every possible route to raising the capital needed is now being explored with major funding bids being prepared for capital grants.

People who support the work of the centre are also being urged to help by buying shares in it – click here for more information or contact Centre Manager Charles Cooke on 07969 875464 or [email protected].

Centre manager Charles Cooke and long-serving Renew member Kim East. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Kevin Kendall, assistant director for corporate property at the county council, said: “We’ve had some really positive meetings with Community Assets Plus following their request to buy the Mint Lane building instead of renting it from us.

“They have various options including buying the building now or at a later date and wish them every success with their fundraising efforts.”

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