Hill Street: Saving a vital community asset

Posted in

Hill Street Youth & Community Centre has been serving the people of Rugby for decades. When it was threatened with closure, a group of volunteers stepped in to save the centre.

Social Problem

More than a decade of cuts to council budgets have led to the closure of libraries, Sure Start centres, community centres, youth hubs and other vital community services across the UK. Funding for children’s services fell by a third per child in England between 2010 and 2020, leading to more than 1,000 children’s centres and 760 youth centres being forced to close their doors.[1]

Solution

Hill Street Youth & Community Centre is the only facility of its kind in the centre of Rugby. It served the community for decades but had become run down and by 2011, the council was considering shutting it down and selling the land. A group of supporters came together to save the centre, forming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and negotiating a 25-year lease from Warwickshire County Council. They successfully applied for grants to update and reinvigorate the centre, building it back up to become a crucial community service, which now has 40,000+ visits a year.

Loan

Hill Street has worked incredibly hard to accommodate an ever-increasing need for community support however the building was just no longer big enough for all the services the charity wants and needs to provide. The charity approached the county council to buy the centre and surrounding land. Negotiations took three years, and the purchase wasn’t straightforward – the property comprises seven small parcels of land, each with its own title deed.

Hill Street’s own bank wasn’t interested in providing a loan, so the charity approached Charity Bank, who proved to be a ‘tremendous help’. Charity Bank loaned them the £125,000 they needed. The purchase was completed in January 2022 and Hill Street is now building a new independent youth hub on the site. The new hub is mainly being paid for with grants, most of which the charity could not have secured without owning the land.

Impact

Hill Street is an essential community resource that has been saved thanks to a group of a volunteers. The centre already hosts a wide range of services, from advice on housing and employment to support for mental health issues and substance abuse. It has a coffee lounge, music studio, sports hall, conference rooms and meeting space and provides a base for over 50 local charities and community groups.

The new youth hub will enable Hill Street to greatly expand provision and allow the centre to run services for adults and young people at the same time, which it was previously unable to do. Along with existing programmes, the hub will offer new services for young people, including educational courses.

Many of the people that Hill Street supports are vulnerable children and teenagers. It has a very successful track record of helping those who are on the brink of turning to crime, as well as protecting young people from gang culture. Some members of the community have been coming to the centre for almost 50 years. And, now that it has security of ownership, Hill Street can continue offering support for many more years to come.

“Finding out that there were seven title deeds came as a huge shock. I think most commercial banks would have said, ‘We’re not doing this – we want one title for one asset.’ Whereas with Danny, it was a case of, ‘Okay, you have seven title deeds, we can cope with that. There’s an overage agreement, that’s no problem. Don’t worry, we’ll sort it.’ They even gave us ideas for funding. I wish everybody could work to the same standards as Charity Bank.”

Stephen Richards, Chair of Trustees at Hill Street Youth & Community Centre

[1] https://www.barnardos.org.uk/n...

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.