Monday, 28 September 2020

Volunteer centre ready to relocate by end of year

THE Fish volunteer centre in Sonning Common is hoping to move to a new office by December.

The charity, which is currently based in part of a house in Kennylands Road, wants to secure its long-term future. 

The lease at its current site, which is owned by Dr Peter Hempill, expires in January, although he says the charity can remain there for as long as it likes.

Fish has agreed in principle the purchase of the former village police station in Lea Road to acquire a new permanent base but contracts have not been exchanged.

The semi-detached building is owned by EXP 1 Development in partnership with Northgate
Developments.

The charity has had an offer of £130,000 for the property accepted and estimates that it will pay the developer another £20,000 to equip the new office. The developer is creating a one-bedroom flat above the police station and refurbishing an old police house at the site. It is also demolishing two garages to create another house.

Fish has the full amount, including about £20,000 raised via a “buy a brick” scheme and a £55,000 capital grant from South Oxfordshire District Council. 

The charity itself will contribute about £30,000 from its reserves and the Mulberry Trust will donate £2,500 once contracts have been exchanged.

Former Fish chairman Clive Mills, who is leading the project, said: “We have got a very good relationship with the developer and we have now agreed a base price of £130,000.

“We don’t pass any money on until we exchange contracts, which will be towards the end of the building programme.

“They have been very supportive of the whole project and the idea of what we want to do.

“We have told the developer that we need to be in our new office by the end of the year.”

Mr Mills said the move was important because the charity has expanded during the last six years at its current site. 

He said: “As the amount of work and services that Fish provides has increased over the years, we have needed more space. 

“The whole ethos of what we’re doing is to make sure that in the coming years we have got a base and that we can drive the work that the charity does in the community. 

“Everybody is really pleased that we have been able to negotiate this deal and happy that we are moving at long last and are not reliant on renting a property.  Sonning Common is a very vibrant community and these opportunities do not come up that often. We’re delighted that we are able to do this.”

Fish (Friendship In Sickness and Health) provides transport to people in and around Sonning Common, taking them on leisure trips or shopping.  It also collects prescriptions and conducts home visits to prevent social isolation.

Meanwhile, the volunteer centre is looking for young people to support its work.  It wants drivers who can transport people without vehicles to and from hospital and help them with their shopping.

Personal protective equipment will be provided for both drivers and passengers to prevent the risk of either contracting coronavirus.

Young people are being asked to volunteer because they are at less risk of developing serious or life-threatening complications if they contract covid119.

For more information, visit 
www.fishvolunteercentre.org.uk

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