Aspatria Dreamscheme: Tackling loneliness and isolation

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Aspatria Dreamscheme already runs a wide range of projects, from youth clubs to a food pantry. But it has even greater ambitions.

Social Problem

Rural towns and villages tend to have fewer leisure and entertainment facilities. And when people are on a very tight budget, they can’t afford to travel. Isolation and loneliness can soon set in.


Aspatria Dreamscheme started as a youth charity and is now expanding its services to the wider community. It already runs a wide range of projects, from clubs that help children to transition from primary to secondary school, to youth clubs, residential trips and a food pantry foodbank delivery centre. It wants to do even more, but it’s run out of space.


An old chapel came up for sale near the charity’s youth centre. It offered Aspatria Dreamscheme the space it needed, but accessing finance to buy the property was proving tricky as the charity has little in the way of regular income. Charity Bank agreed to loan Aspatria Dreamscheme £84,500. Together with a sizeable gift from another charity and Aspatria Dreamscheme’s own reserves, it was enough to purchase the property.

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Aspatria Dreamscheme's new building


Aspatria Dreamscheme has big plans for the new building. All of the new services, from cookery classes to craft activities and low-cost hot meals, will help to bring people together and tackle loneliness. The charity also plans to host organisations such as Citizens Advice. In-person support is crucial when so many of the people who the charity works with can’t afford public transport and don’t have access to the internet.

Buying the building, rather than renting it, is also benefitting the charity itself. The loan repayments are £200 a month lower than the rent would be. Ownership makes it far easier to get grant funding for a commercial kitchen and other equipment.

Plus, as Aspatria Dreamscheme’s Youth & Community Development Manager, Linda Hunter, says, ownership gives you long-term security, “If you lease a building, you’re legally required to pay rent, even if a project closes and you’re no longer using the property. But if you own the building, you can sell it and reinvest the money in your other services. Ultimately, though, it’s not about the charity owning the space, it’s about the community having that ownership. They’re emotionally invested in the building and want to keep it going. We've already got people lining up to help us.”

Without this loan, we couldn’t have bought the building so wouldn’t be able to deliver some of our community programmes. It’s great to know that the interest we’re paying means that Charity Bank can help other organisations like us.”

Adrian Cozens, Chair of Aspatria Dreamscheme

About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,100 loans totalling over £400m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.