Background information

Cotgrave Futures
(Opened September 2002)

Background information

The community building project came forward under the SRB programme when it was realised that the Youth Club building originally provided by the Welfare was coming to the end of its life and the existing voluntary child care provision was struggling to find suitable long-term accommodation. It was against this backdrop that the idea arose for a project headed by Cotgrave Town Council. The Council had a significant reserve acquired from a land sale, which was intended for a community project, and this emerged as the potential match funding for an ambitious plan involving the replacement of the youth club and the creation of accommodation for a range of basic services for families and children.

The SRB board approved the scheme and a funding bid was put together for The New Opportunities Fund and the Coalfield Regeneration trust. This progressed well until its final stages when the New Opportunities Fund, against all expectation at this point, withdrew its support. This caused great consternation and we threw all our efforts into a rescue operation. We managed to scale down the project, secured the continuing support of Coalfield Regeneration Trust and with help from the County over the shortfall, we were eventually able to go ahead.

This event clearly made the building less versatile than we had wished, deprived us of potential sources of income and undermined our business plan. Our conviction that such a venture was needed has sustained our determination to carry on and while we have had to endure some criticism, we think the outcome has justified our efforts. We have a legacy of problems but with good will from other partners these should be capable of satisfactory solution.

The Futures Building currently hosts the Serendipity child care facility, a café used by Serendility for its meals provision but potentially availabe at weekends for functions, and a general meeting room and offices. In conjunction with Serendipity the Futures Board aspires to increase its provision for the elderly. The café area is in frequent use in the evenings for a various activities. We have an office in the lobby, which serves as a reception point.

Since opening we have remained sanguine about the underlying practicability of the business plan though we were badly hit by an arson attack at one stage, which took the kitchen out of operation for six months. We now look forward to finding a place in the developments associated with the Cotgrave Master Plan.

The membership of the Board of Trustees consists of three council representatives, a County Councillor and people nominated as residents. The Town Council is the ‘guardian’ trustee, responsible to the Charity Commission in a monitoring role to ensure the charity’s ongoing operations. We residents seeking nomination are assured of n interesting involvement in the trust’s governance and have an inspection role. There are no formal qualifications required other than residence of Cotgrave though the board requires members to undertake a CRB check since we come in contact with children and on occasion vulnerable adults. We now have to undergo a further check under new Inland Revenue rules since we are all involved in the Board’s financial decision making and we benefit from certain VAT reliefs as a charity. All charities receiving taxation advantages have now to establish that their members are ‘fit and proper persons’ and a check is undertaken on all nominees to ascertain that there is no history which puts question marks over their financial trustworthiness.

This may sound heavy but is a one-off and confidential process which most people will have no problem with and which provides the general public with an assurance of the probity of the Board. Once past these very straightforward tests, our trustees are able to engage with a rewarding involvement in a community project.

Eric Woolsey, chair of Board of Trustees