The Shrewsbury Ark, which runs a day centre to support the homeless and vulnerable throughout Shropshire is thrilled to announce the completion of its’ long-awaited purchase of the former Rock & Fountain Pub in Castle Foregate.
The purchase also sees the launch of an exciting new gofundme campaign; #BuildTheArk, asking for donations from local people and businesses to help to raise the vital funds required to transform this much-loved pub into a new community hub for the most vulnerable members of the community.
The Shrewsbury Ark has been located at 10 Castle Foregate since 2008, and while the charity has been grateful for council support with these premises, the building size and layout has not allowed for the expansion of services to meet the growing need; even with restrictions in place, in May, 53 individuals accessed the Ark’s day centre facilities, and 47 GP appointments were made. Furthermore, between January and May 2021 the Ark’s outreach team received 35 new referrals.
Trustees took the decision to purchase new premises in 2020; it is a historical moment for the charity, as it is the first time in its 49-year history that it has owned its own premises.
The building needs many modifications to meet building regulations and a ‘top to toe’ renovation is required; everything from rewiring, fire and health and safety measures, to installing showers, laundry facilities, and new flooring is needed.
Long standing trustee and former treasurer Ian Somervaille explains, “We are extremely grateful for the support of Shropshire Council (and SABC before them) with our current premises, but purchasing our own building has been a long-standing vision for Trustees; it gives us the security to invest in a building fit-for-purpose as we work towards expanding our many services such as our GP and Mental Health clinics, outreach support and counselling. We also plan to include an exercise room, in which our clients can improve their physical health.
“For years we have saved and invested donations with a view to one day finding the right property to purchase and grow into; I’m thrilled that day has finally arrived.”
Emily Bell current Chair says, “It is very exciting times; this day has been decades in the making and there are many people to thank for getting us this far, not least those people who have donated to our charity over the years. In what is probably the biggest project the Charity has undertaken since it was established in 1972, we are asking the people to get behind transforming the Rock & Fountain into a new vibrant community hub.
“We are inviting businesses and individuals to visit our gofundme page at www.gofund.me/5192aad8 (or they can donate via our website) and support us with whatever they can; our aim is to create a warm and inviting place of refuge and new beginnings in the heart of Shrewsbury. As a charity we rely entirely on donations and grants to operate and with the continued support of our community, we truly believe we can make a permanent and far-reaching impact on the town’s homeless and vulnerable and help to transform lives.”
“In the near future, we will also be grateful of volunteer support to help practically once the building work has been completed; painting, cleaning and moving furniture is going to be a huge job!”
The Charity currently employs 7 staff and has a team of over 60 volunteers. Adhering strictly to COVID-19 regulations, it has continued to provide services in very challenging conditions to the homeless and vulnerable. All its services are free. Throughout the pandemic, it has been a vital lifeline for well over a hundred people, and with the support of Council, it has helped 10 people move into a new home. The Ark Charity Shop on Castle Street has now re-opened after the COVID lockdown.
“On behalf of the trustees, I would like to thank all of those who have supported us with donations over the years to enable us to make this purchase. We also owe a great deal of thanks to our architect Mark Newall for getting us this far and to Robin Jones, the much-loved landlord of the Rock & Fountain for making this dream a reality for the charity.” concludes Emily. Please visit www.gofund.me/5192aad8 or www.shrewsburyark.co.uk to support the campaign or call 01743 363 30 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.